How Do Green Cars Hold Up In Crashes?

Eco-friendly cars will enable you to reduce your carbon footprint, and you will also save a significant amount of money on gasoline each year. However, it is essential for consumers to carefully analyze every aspect of a vehicle before they purchase it. For example, you need to place your safety ahead of most other concerns. After all, if a vehicle does not perform well during an accident, it could cause you to suffer or even become a traffic fatality.

Many states, including New York, have in place the New Car Lemon Law for example, which allows for any new car buyer or lessee to have legal recourse for vehicles that do not perform according to warranty terms. The owner may be entitled to a refund or a replacement if repeated attempts within the first 18,000 miles or two years (whichever one comes first) were made for the car to be repaired but without satisfactory correction. With this law, New York residents could be assured of having a properly working vehicle that should not cause continued issues or be the reason for an accident.

Fortunately, most hybrid cars have a very high safety ranking, so you should be able to meet your safety and environmental needs with one of these vehicles.

Hybrid Safety Rankings

U.S. News and World Report compiled a list of 22 hybrids that were released in 2013 and 2014, and they were ranked according to five different points, including safety. The 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid and the 2014 Ford Focus Electric both scored a perfect 10 for safety, while the 2013 Toyota Prius-c had the worst safety results with an 8.3. This indicates that a big emphasis is placed on creating these vehicles with the same attention to driver and passenger safety as anything else on the road today. In fact, many of these hybrid vehicles rank higher than cars that are not eco-friendly.

The 2013 Tesla Model S was ranked #1 in Luxury Hybrid and #2 in Super Luxury Cars by U.S. News and World Report2. The Tesla S has garnered 5-star safety ratings in front, side, and side pole crash tests administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The design of the car itself helps its performance in crashes. There is no engine in the front end of the car, just crumple zones. And in the back, there is no fuel tank. The forward thinking car company also has in place protocols for vehicle owners, first responders and fire departments on how to handle an emergency.

What About Smart Cars?

It is natural for people to be concerned about the safety of riding in a Smart car because they are much smaller than what consumers are used to. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) decided to put these cars to the test in 2008 in order to determine whether or not the safety concerns that these vehicles elicit from consumers are actually warranted. Surprisingly, this eco-friendly option received the highest ratings3 in the side impact and front end categories.

It is important to note that these tests were conducted with a simulated 40 mile-per-hour crash, and the IIHS indicated that Smart cars are best suited for accidents in an urban environment where people drive more slowly, such as in the more heavily populated areas of New York.

Battery Concerns

One of the main concerns regarding electric car batteries is the fact that they can leak flammable fluids as a result of an accident. Fortunately, automobile manufacturers have begun addressing this issue by putting additional safeguards in place. For example, the Toyota Prius’s NiMH HV battery pack contains sealed batteries, and this design helps ensure that the potentially dangerous electrolyte does not leak.

However, Toyota has conceded that even this safety measure cannot provide a 100 percent guarantee that leakage will never occur, but they have stated that this fluid can be neutralized easily by using vinegar or a diluted boric acid solution. Like Tesla, Toyota has also created a guide4 for the Prius to help educate emergency responders about the best way to deal with any incidents.

As you can see, the majority of hybrid and other eco-friendly vehicles perform admirably when it comes to safety tests, and newer versions of these cars minimize the risk of any battery fluid leakage. Therefore, if you are in the market for a green car, you should apply the same research criteria that you would to any other vehicle. Although generally as safe as most other vehicles on the road, there is the equal possibility for them to be involved in accidents. This attorney youtube video, may be helpful as it emphasizes what those injured in accidents should do to get help – regardless of the vehicle type.

To put it simply, it is always important for consumers to review safety ratings and industry expert reviews to help ensure that they make an informed decision. However, if you do end up dealing with injuries as a result of an accident that is caused by a defective vehicle or another motorist, you should contact a personal injury attorney for assistance.

  1. “Car Rankings: Hybrid Cars,” U.S. News, accessed March 20, 2014
  2. “Tesla Model S Review,” U.S. News, accessed May 18, 2014
  3. “Smart car gets highest score in crash test,” NBC News, accessed March 20, 2014
  4. “Toyota Prius: Emergency Response Guide,” Toyota, accessed March 20, 2014

Wizard Gadgetry Tree Hugging for Greener Driving

Tech innovation that looks like pipe dreams at the moment may one day help lower your carbon footprint — not to mention save you some money. Welcome to the age of tree hugging through technology.

Learning From NASCAR

Electric vehicles (EVs) that charge wirelessly, remote-controlled commuter convoys, and other tantalizing technical concepts down the road bring fresh ideas to taming the second-largest source of carbon-dioxide emissions on the planet — transportation.

Racing fans should think of NASCAR drivers “drafting” bumper-to-bumper at hundreds of miles an hour around a track. They’re cutting turbulence and save precious fuel, sure, but they’re also shrinking their carbon footprint. The European Union (EU) is testing a computer-controlled highway convoy that wirelessly links up to seven vehicles in tight formation behind a professional driver, according to CNet. The phenomenon called “platooning” works like this:

  1. You enter the highway, signaling a convoy headed your way.
  2. You relinquish control of your vehicle to a professional driver at the head of the convoy, who…
  3. …guides your vehicle into line, and then operates it remotely.

You then sit back, phoning, texting, or simply relaxing until you see your exit. According to the brains behind the Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) concept, this approach could save 20 percent on fuel, cutting commute time and congestion.

We’ll have to wait for their results to see how such a thing might be applied in the U.S. The reason you can’t just try it yourself, of course, is that it’s illegal. To be ready for the change when it comes you could always get yourself a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S class luxo-cruiser. Just take a glimpse into Car and Driver website, and you’ll see how it’s all wired up for the future.

Charge Your EV Wirelessly

Electric cars are our automotive future, they keep telling us, but all that charging hassle keeps prospective buyers from trying them out. It turns out magnetic induction — the same technology used in electric toothbrushes, pacemakers, and other consumer devices — can charge EV batteries wirelessly, too. Nissan, maker of the fully-electric car, the Leaf, has demonstrated a system that charges a parked car that way. The Japanese automaker wants to implant induction charging strips right into the road surface so cars can get their juice on the go.

To try this wireless EV charging for yourself, suggests putting a deposit down on a 2015 Toyota Prius which will offer the new technology.

High Tech Curbs Urban Carbon Footprint

The high-tech ideas for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the city just keep coming. Consider the following:

  • Stackable CityCar — The CityCar is a proposal from the Smart Cities program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a 2-passenger EV available as-needed. Micro cars parked tip-to-tail in special racks, they’d have a jointed driveshaft for scrunching up even more.
  • All Meshed Up — GoLoco is a high-tech mashup of social networking and carpooling from the co-founder of Zipcar. This distributed mesh network will enable America’s millions of cars to share up-to-the-second information making them “radically more efficient.”

These two urban concepts could show up anywhere from Sacramento to your hometown, where you can take part. Meanwhile, to go green when driving in Indianapolis while saving gas, you can browse through used cars with the SmartWay leaf signature on them at a nearby DriveTime location. It may be tempting to give in to your emotions when shopping for a car, and just start drooling over your favorite brands, leather interior options or car stereo hookups. However, doing your part to stay green is not only good karma, but will make you look hip in the process.