The research firm Quality Planning analyzes data for insurance companies and looked at data on 359,309 covered vehicles over a two-year period. It found that even though hybrid owners save on gas and greenhouse gas emissions, they drove 25% more on non-work related trips. Even though their commuting habits were roughly the same as non-hybrid drivers, they took more discretionary trips, potentially offsetting their environmentally friendly purchase.
Hybrid drivers also appear to get more traffic tickets, averaging .38 moving violations per 100,000 miles driven compared to the average of .23 for all drivers. These findings are significant because insurance companies often offer discounts to hybrid drivers. The study also found that hybrids also cost an average of 13% more to repair after an accident than other vehicles.
Before we jump to conclusions, though, let’s keep a few things in mind. Hybrid drivers tend to skew toward upper-middle class urban dwellers. People who live in cities tend to accrue more moving violations, and, they likely have the disposable income to take more long-distance trips in their cars.
In other words, the real question is: Do hybrid owners drive more because they own hybrids or simply because of the demographic they represent?