Hybrids and pedestrians

A new federal study reports that hybrid electric cars are more likely than models with internal combustion engines to crash with pedestrians and bicyclists, especially during low-speed maneuvers when the hybrids are likely to be running only on electricity.

Conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the study relies on police reports of collisions in 12 states to compute proportions of crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists colliding with Honda and Toyota hybrids versus similar cars from the same automakers without hybrid engines. The hybrids’ overall likelihood of crashing with a pedestrian was 40 percent higher than the other cars’, increasing to a 50 percent difference in areas where speed limits were 35 mph or slower.

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