Hybrid Cars: Do's and Dont's When Involved in an Accident

An electric vehicle charging its power in August 2020.
An electric vehicle charging its power in August 2020.

Hybrid vehicles are becoming a significant game-changer in the transport industry as motorists continue to embrace them due to their fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness.

The vehicles run on a duo-powered engines that combine gasoline engine and electric motor. This allows the vehicle to cut fuel consumption and conserve energy, unlike conventional fossil fuel engines. 

A 2021 report by International Energy Agency (IEA) indicated that hybrid models represent close to nine per cent of the global car market. 

An image of a white 2019 Toyota Prius.
An image of a white 2019 Toyota Prius.

Further, the hybrid models are the main attraction at the World Rally Championships.

The hybrid models pride themselves on safety when driving. However, motorists have in the past raised rescue issues when the car gets involved in an accident. Emergency responders who rush to the scene are at risk of suffering an electrical shock.

In the case of a normal car, the batteries fall in the 12-volt range but hybrids' electrical requirements can be 10 to 20 times, hence a higher risk for the motorists, passengers and rescuers. 

"In a 12-volt vehicle, if a rescuer cuts through a battery cable, the biggest threat he faces is creating a spark that ignites something. In a hybrid, if you cut through the wrong thing, especially a high voltage cable, then it's possible you'll have a dead responder on your hands," hybrid car expert, Todd Hoffman, intimated to the media. 

Safety Measures

High voltage components in hybrids are clearly marked in bright colours in order to alert rescuers of the potential danger. The green code signals that rescuers can approach the vehicle, red colour code hints at a danger zone. 

According to a report on safety hazards by the United States Government titled, High Voltage Safety With Hybrids
and Electric Vehicles
, rescuers ought to use insulated gloves when dealing with the car.

This is because interacting with a cable may become hazardous. The rescuers should also monitor the vehicle on all sides in order to spot spills either caused by the high-capacity batteries.

"Workers should avoid contact with high-voltage cables unless the high-voltage battery has been disconnected. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) includes heavy, rubber, Class 0 rated gloves."

"Ordinary latex or neoprene shop gloves are not thick enough to protect against a high-voltage shock. Workers should inspect their gloves to make sure they do not have any pinholes, cracks, tears, or splits that would allow direct contact between skin and voltage," reads part of the report. 

An undated image of a petrol station attendant pumping fuel into a car.
A photo of a petrol station attendant pumping fuel into a car in Nairobi County in February 2020.
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