Hybrids, the Road, and You

Skimming recent news items from 2011, we spotted this NHTSA update to a 2009 study regarding hybrid vs “normal” car / bike and pedestrian collisions. from their website.

New terms are defined in the report:
HE = Hybrid  Electric
ICE =  Internal Combustion Engine

The 2009 “Incidence of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crashes by Hybrid Electric Passenger Vehicles”  found that an HE vehicle was 2x  more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash than an ICE vehicle in situations involving low-speed maneuvers (Hanna, 2009).

From the conclusion of the report, we find this tidbit, “the odds of an HE vehicle being involved in a bicycle crash were statistically higher than the odds of ICE vehicle being involved in similar crash when the crash occurred at an intersection“. (emphasis mine)

Overall, the odds ratios indicate that the odds of an HE vehicle being in either a pedestrian or bicycle crash are greater than the odds of an ICE vehicle being in a similar crash.  The odds ratio for an HE versus an ICE vehicle involved in a pedestrian crash was 1.35, and the odds ratio for an HE versus an ICE vehicle involved in a bicycle crash was 1.57.

Listed in the below tables from the report are the what and where of car / bike collisions:

Click to Enlarge

This update did not provide an apparent set of scenarios for bicycle crashes, but it did provide a clearer picture regarding pedestrian crashes. For example a comparison of all HE versus ICE passenger vehicles regardless of makes and models indicates that the odds of any HE passenger vehicle being in a pedestrian crash are 22 percent greater than the odds of any ICE passenger vehicle.  The largest differences between the involvement of HE and ICE vehicles in pedestrian crashes occur with speed limits of 35 mph and lower, and usually in low speed maneuvers at intersections and parking lots.

Since cyclists have been known to dismount and walk about from time to time, one can surmise from this study that you are more likely to be involved in a crash with an HE vehicle on foot than on two wheels.

The takeaway here is remembering to look both ways before crossing a street, and being extra careful when pulling into or out of  parking lots, or making lane changes on the road, due to the fact  you must see tHE car because you can’t hear it.