Hybrid vehicles are rising in popularity in Maryland and across the U.S., as more people seek to save money on gas with an environmentally friendlier vehicle. However according to a recent insurance industry report, hybrids vehicles aren't always as friendly to pedestrians. Liability claims for pedestrian accidents with hybrid vehicles are on the rise because people on foot -- as well as bicyclists -- may simply not hear them coming.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a report late last fall stating that hybrids are actually safer than their non-hybrid equivalents when it comes to protecting motorists in car accidents. However the same cannot be said when pedestrians are struck by hybrids. The IIHS reported that hybrid vehicles are 20 percent more likely to be involved in traffic accidents with pedestrians.
A Baltimore County pedestrian accident injury lawyer works with individuals in cases where a person on foot has been struck and injured or killed by a motor vehicle. We're hearing more about pedestrian traffic accidents involving hybrid cars, whose engines are very quiet when the vehicle is in electric only mode. Unlike conventional gas burners that rumble along the Maryland roadways, hybrids running on all electric current may approach almost silently -- particularly for pedestrians who are wearing iPod headsets, and/or are texting or talking on their cell phones.
(Distracted walking is a related and increasing pedestrian traffic accident hazard, as more and more people on foot multi-task with their SmartPhones, unaware of the traffic around them.)
According to the IIHS report, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) examined 17 different hybrid vehicles as well as their nonhybrid counterparts, model years 2002 - 2010 -- which were involved in traffic accidents from 2004 to 2010, amounting to more than 25,000 personal injury claims. Their findings that hybrids are 20% more likely to be involved in pedestrian traffic crashes is in line with 2009 and 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies, which concluded that "hybrids have a higher rate of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes than nonhybrids."
As Baltimore car accident injury attorneys, we've worked with families who've been devastated by pedestrian and auto crashes. Someone walking on foot or on a bicycle is obviously at a huge disadvantage when they find themselves on the same path as a motor vehicle. These types of pedestrian and bicycle accidents with motor vehicles can cause serious, debilitating injuries, including brain and spine injuries.
Maryland hybrid owners would be well advised to take it slow in Baltimore or anywhere that pedestrians are in and out of the roadways. They may simply not know your vehicle is driving close by. At the same time, pedestrians should pay attention to what's around them. No text message or iPod tune is more important than your life.
Hybrids Chalk Up More Injury Claims for Pedestrians
IIHS Status Report, Vol. 46, No. 10, Nov. 17, 2011
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety news release
Pedestrian-Related Bodily Injury Liability Claim Frequencies, Hybrids versus their Conventional Counterparts (PDF)
Highway Loss Data Institute Bulletin, Sept. 2011