Volt, Leaf, earn safety commendations

Customers who buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt can now drive not only knowing that they're helping the environment, but that they're also in a very safe vehicle.

Both electric cars received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) coveted "Top Safety Pick" award, which puts them in the top 57 percent of vehicles tested. Both vehicles posted strong marks in front, side and rear crash tests.

Joe Nolan, chief administrative officer for the test, said that the vehicles' extra body mass and weight of their battery packs made them overall safer vehicles compared to similarly-sized hatchbacks and compacts.

"What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers," he told Reuters.

The IIHS is underwritten by insurance companies and primarily provides them with data on the safety of a vehicle so that the insurers can adjust their premiums accordingly.

The Volt and Leaf are still pricey, so drivers might be better served by waiting for them to hit the used car market before they make their purchase. Once they do, New Jersey State Auto Auction can provide a fair deal on the two models or any other vehicles that a driver may be considering.