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What Are Some Of The Hazards Of Hybrids

Aug 17, 2007
With all of the talk of hybrid vehicles many people are singing their praises about these lightweight, fuel-efficient cars. But are there hazards to driving a hybrid? Is there really anything to worry about? Let's take a closer look at potential hybrid hazards.

One of the biggest concerns often talked about when it comes to hybrid vehicles has to do with those personnel responding to accidents involving a hybrid. Many traditional looking cars such as the Honda Accord and Ford Escape are being built with hybrid engines and rescuers might experience some difficulty at the scene of an accident identifying one as such. The reason the identification is crucial is that as compared to conventional gas powered cars, hybrid vehicles have a tremendous amount of electricity coursing through them and thus could cause injury to rescuers and further injury to drivers already hurt by the crash. Many people believe that the solution to this problem is for automakers to affix a label on the driver's side visor stating that it is a hybrid vehicle, equip with all the features that this kind of car entails.

New hybrids are bursting onto the market at an increasing rate and therefore all first responders (including the police, fire department and paramedics) need to be taught about ways in which hybrid cars differ from more traditional non-hybrid models. Lack of education could result in safety measures being compromised and injuries (life threatening or otherwise) taking place. To use the battery in a hybrid to illustrate the point, in some hybrid models the battery carries with it a charge of up to 500 volts and is powered both by gasoline and electricity. Compare this with the voltage of a typical non-hybrid car, which is in the area of 12 volts. First responders need to be taught where the battery is located in a hybrid car and how to cut the cables without risking being electrocuted by the high voltage that the battery puts out. This is particularly important when machinery such as the Jaws of Life is required to physically remove a passenger in imminent danger from a car. It cannot be emphasized enough, without proper training, more serious injury, and even death, could result.

This problem is being addressed by manufacturers of hybrids with Honda and Toyota going to the front of the line on safety procedures. Hybrid cars are being suited with color codes so first responders can easily comprehend the flow of electricity in the car. Honda hybrids use the color bright orange to designate the high-voltage power line which helps reduce safety risks for rescuers responding to calls.

Concerns about hybrid hazards have led Honda and Toyota to create their own individual safety guides for rescue personnel. Every fire department in the United States received a copy of these guides to be made available for their staff to educate themselves. Toyota has just completed new guides for its latest hybrid vehicles, the Highlander and Lexus. These guides can easily be read online by any member of the public, whether they are emergency workers or not.

In South Florida, with its many canals, many people have expressed concerns about the hybrid hazards involved in water submersion, as these kinds of accidents are common in this area of the state. Manufacturers of hybrid vehicles say that the only thing emergency personnel need to keep in mind in regard to safety issues is to remember to make sure the car's ignition is turned off once it is out of the water.

Speaking of the car being turned off, that is another issue for hot debate when it comes to talk of hybrid hazards. Hybrid cars are made differently than traditional gas powered vehicles in that it is not always easy to tell if they are off or still running. Most traditional cars one need only feel the hood of the car to make a correct determination but hybrids can be tricky- a hybrid can appear to be turned off when in actual fact it is in silent electric mode and very able to plow over an unsuspecting person if any movement or pressure is applied to the accelerator. One possible solution to this serious hazard put forth by the fire department in Texas is to place chocks under the wheels if it is not known whether the car's ignition is still on or not.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. Get the car care products you need from http://www.stopwaxing.com
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