Study: Hybrid Drivers Get More Tickets

Hybrid drivers get more tickets and get into more accidents than drivers of conventional cars. That’s the conclusion of a new study of 360,000 vehicle insurance claims by San Francisco-based Quality Planning Corp. The results from Quality Planning, a unit of Insurance Services Offices Inc., call into question the discounts offered to hybrid drivers by major insurance companies.

A key to the findings could be that the typical hybrid owner is more likely to live in a city, and urban drivers generally are cited for more traffic violations. Owners of the Toyota Prius, for example, racked up 65 percent more traffic tickets than conventional drivers, according to the study. The typical hybrid owner is also more likely to be a woman and older than average.

According to the study, non-commuting hybrid owners drive an average of 25 percent—or 2,000 miles—more than non-hybrid drivers, while mileage racked up by commuters was about the same for hybrid and non-hybrid owners. Dr. Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning, said, “What we don’t know is whether owning a hybrid vehicle encourages people to drive more miles each day or take more pleasure trips.”

For 2008 hybrid cars, Quality Planning found that the cost to insurers of providing collision coverage for hybrids was 13 percent higher than for conventional vehicles, while non-collision-related damage was 17 percent higher—with larger hybrids taking most of the hit. For example, when comparing specific 2006-2008 models, the highest collision loss costs came from the Toyota Highlander Hybrid—45 percent higher—and the Ford Escape Hybrid—31 percent higher.

Fueling and maintenance costs are commonly hundreds of dollars less expensive for owners of hybrid vehicles compared to owners of similar non-hybrid cars.

Representatives for the major hybrid-producing car makers—Toyota, Honda and Ford—have not commented on the Quality Planning study.


  • David

    I find myself distracted at all the hybrid gages and had one accident in my Honda Civic Hybrid because I was not paying attention and looking at my gages.This could be a factor also.

  • sullivas6

    Did this studying only look at CA drivers? Or across the country? You can make of stats what you want. I suspect the final report has more to do with making a case to raise insurance rates on hybrids than it does in making a honest comparison. What were the accident or ticket rates for those same drivers before they switched to hybrids? If it is the same, then the use of hybrid versus conventional cars is mute.

  • Itman

    This is probably a lame data that misses something. E.g. the aforementioned bias that more hybrid drivers live in the city. Previous studies actually showed that hybrid drivers are less likely to have an accident. Many of them are also hypermilers and rarely go really fast.

  • Highlander

    Sooo, does this mean that hybrid drivers just aren’t that bright?
    The math in driving a hybrid doesn’t add up for most.

  • Dom

    Itman said “Many of them are also hypermilers and rarely go really fast.”

    Maybe it’s the hypermilers getting into all these accidents because they were following too closely behind a monster machine… :)

    Or maybe it’s the Prius brake failure issue causing a bunch of rear end collisions that is showing up in the stats…

    Who knows really… maybe the stats have been manipulated or the focus group was bias. Hey, that’s how the automakers figured out there is no market for diesel cars in the US!!

  • BillW

    Here’s my guess at the reason for more tickets: HOV lanes. At least here in SoCal, many hybrids have gotten stickers that allow them to travel in HOV lanes even with a single occupant. And if you’ve ever used the HOV lanes in LA, you know the unwritten rule is that the HOV lane moves faster than the regular traffic lanes, regardless of how fast the regular lanes are moving. Which sometimes results in the HOV lanes moving at 80+.

    As to them not knowing why hybrid drivers rack up more miles, did it ever occur to these geniuses that many people buy hybrids BECAUSE they have to drive more miles and are trying to save money? Sheesh. Even if they’re “non-commuting”, a person may have other reasons to regularly drive long distances.

  • Boom Boom

    I think it is because hybrid drivers are all commies.

    Seriously, there are so many factors that this study didn’t control for (like higher miles driven my hybrids, and the urban environment) that even the study authors don’t attribute the effect to something specific.

  • mcclanahoochie

    correlation =/= causation

  • Daniel Riser

    I test drove a Prius and almost crashed at the Toyota Dealership. It has horrendous blind spots, even the 2010 model.

  • Annie

    Oh please. I’ve had my Prius since 2005. No tickets, no crashes, low mileage, no distractions. Just learn how to drive people. You can turn the screen off it it is too distracting. Adjust your mirrors to help with the blind spots. Stop trying to talk on your cell and drive at the same time. Studies like these give studies a bad name.

  • Smug Alert

    I think it’s because the smug assholes that drive priuses are entitled to drive into what ever and who ever they want. They are after all saving the world, and will tell you they’re saving the world, and that they’re smarter and better then you for doing so.

    The Prius is the ugliest most boring car to drive on the planet (perhaps second in terms of pure yawn only to the Camery), but then again Toyota’s been in the business of making cars boring to drive and ugly as sin since they got into the market.

  • 18 wheeler

    I’m surprised more of them are not run over! It seems to me they are always going UNDER the speed limit and in the way of other traffic. A good rule of thumb is if you are not going to drive at the same general speed as other traffic you will have or cause accidents. That holds true at 40 MPH in town or 200 MPH on a race track.

  • btn

    I also passed on the Prius hatchback because of the poor rear visibility. The standard mirrors aren’t large enough to compensate.

  • wooac

    The study needs to look closely at the geographic distribution of hybrid owners. Because most of the hybrids are in urban areas, they should be expected to have more tickets and accidents. The correct comparison is hybrid car tickets and accidents in a zip code versus other comparably sized vehicles. Comparing driving records between Manhattan and rural Indiana is just bogus.

  • alb

    “The typical hybrid owner is also more likely to be a woman and older than average.”

    I’m going to have to deduct from this that old women = sucky drivers.

  • Itman

    Hypermiling is not only about following trucks.

  • MIKE601

    I don’t think I’m better than you for driving a hybrid. I think I’m better than you because I can make a point without using profanity and I know how to spell (Camery?).

    If you a big enough idiot that you can’t drive a hybrid without being captivated by the gauges then you probably shouldn’t talk on a cell phone, eat, yell at your kids in the back or do anything else while driving. Heck, just by a bike, it will be best for everyone.

  • Anonymous

    18 wheelers, Old ladies, commies, & HOV lines – funny comments!

    Sad to see a hybrid get knocked around like the one in the photo. Bet if traded in or whatever happened to it the auto dealer probably tried selling it back for only a few hundred bucks off the new model price, joking but the high resale value of say a Prius must give owners some reassurance that they will get something in return if they crash their vehicles.

    HOV lines I find to be somewhat amusing. Speaking of going through ATL, DC or up in Minneapolis its the same everyone uses it as if being in a excluded left lane speeding club. Lots don’t really have a second passenger or hybrid vehicle, whats so funny is when it ends you see all these people slam on their brakes & fight to get into the normal lanes. Another funny note about HOV lines is the person who actual is driving w/ a passenger & is actually going the speed limit w/c sometimes almost gets knocked off the road. Maybe like someone said HOV lines could be related to more accidents???? Instead of more HOV lines maybe a wiser call would be building monorail or light rail systems along side interstates, ok that might be me on that one but see it as a better solution…. Anyways funny stuff…

  • MIKE601

    Because 75+ mph in a the narrowed lanes of a construction zone, in the right lane, is a perfectly safe and legitimate reason to give in to the group think mentality like everyone else and drive like a maniac. Come on, that’s the same as saying all Buick drivers are elderly and shouldn’t drive on any major roads. As soon as you pay my ticket, I’ll drive as fast as you want me to.

  • Smug Alert

    sorry for not taking that jap crap all that seriously Mikey. I’m perfectly content to drive an American car that gets excellent fuel economy with out sacrificing handling. Perhaps you should look into the Ford fusion. I know it doesn’t give off that, ugly, I don’t need to drive something that’s fun and looks nice, posh hybrid aura of the Prius, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun on the open road.

  • Hilary Henegar

    How many of those ticketed were taxis?

  • simon@syd

    I drive a small car and a large car – the running cost of the large car actually is a disincentive to drive – maybe hybrid drivers are driving everywhere more. So much for the environment!

  • Mr.Bear

    It was a lot easier to make excuses for visiting my inlaws when it was 40 miles and two gallons of gas each way. Now that it’s only 1.5 gallons roundtrip it’s tougher to make excuses.

  • Mr.Bear

    The other thing, when we know we are going to drive all over town or make a roadtrip, we choose the car that gets the better mileage.

    Duh.

    I’d like to see a breakdown of what the tickets are. I think the statistic is meaningless without it.

    The higher cost of repair doesn’t surprise me. The margins on hybrids are tight margins on hybrids. Of course the price of parts will be jacked up to compensate. And if there is damage to the electronics, add $100 per hour for diagnostics and repairs.

  • failsauce

    “The typical hybrid owner is also more likely to be a woman and older than average”

    women drivers, a joke in itself.

  • Old Bald Guy

    “The Prius is the ugliest most boring car to drive on the planet (perhaps second in terms of pure yawn only to the Camery), but then again Toyota’s been in the business of making cars boring to drive and ugly as sin since they got into the market”

    Guess this is why Toyota is now the largest car company in the world and has quality second to none. And the Prius is so boring that people are willingly paying a market premium to buy one. My 2010 is NOT boring and runs like a scalded cat when it needs to … that is what the “power” button is for … oh, sorry … doesn’t your exciting Hummer have one?

    Millions of Americans gave up on the dream of an American brand back in 1973 during the first oil embargo. We discovered that Japanese cars were made better than Detroit Iron … and cheaper … and rode better … and lasted longer. I used to work for Ford and Chrysler back in the 60′s and the 70′s. Gave up that dream a long time ago.

  • Old Bald Guy

    I am also suprised at not having been run over. Here in the Dallas, TX metro, I have to run my Prius at 70 to 80 MPH in the slow lane … in a 60 zone … to keep from getting run over by the morons in their super crew duallys who are running 80 MPH … in that same 60 zone.

    It’s not that I am running under the limit … I am only going 10 or 20 OVER the limit.

    The problem seems to be too many morons on cell phones … weaving all over the road … and at 20 to 30 MPH over the limit. That’s part of the reason we have had wrecks around here where people on cells phones are driving their Tahoes at 70 MPH into cars stopped for red lights.

    If you are going to complain about drivers … target the right ones.

  • Smug Alert says

    Old Bald guy, when was the last time you looked at an American Car?

    http://www.caranddriver.com/news/car/07q2/ford_passes_toyota_in_j.d._power_initial_quality_rankings-car_news

    Get your facts straight, I know you feel like you’re gods gift to the earth for driving your ugly as sin prius, but to trumpet “Toyota’s Number 1 RA RA RA!!!” With out actually having facts to back that up doesn’t contribute anything to the discussion. Do yourself a favor, and actually look at the cars your ranting about before you start your rant.

  • Billy Cowan

    If you have driven your hybrid for a while you should not have to LOOK at the screen or gages to drive competently and the same as feathering the throttle and yes I drive the other 01 Prius not the ugly hatchback. I am in the process of changing my other rear hub assembly and did the Miata battery swap. Thanks for the vent.

  • Jenn

    I test drove a Honda Insight and felt the same way. The car handled beautifully, but the blind spots made me nervous.

  • Slow traffic stay RIGHT

    The carpool lane is not a fucking leisure lane, if you are NOT passing the traffic on your right then GTFO and let the person behind you go around.

    What would you consider worse/more dangerous?

    YOU change lanes and stay at speed for maybe 3-4 while the person behind you moves past.
    or
    YOU sit in the fucking lane twiddling your thumbs, make the driver/rider behind you find a gap, change lanes, accelerate, cut you off.

    In my experience people get pissed off when I cut them off, then they will speed up and tailgate. All boiling back down to them not moving over for a split second.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    I think everyone that thinks there is an assortment of reasons for the crashes are probably correct. I think there are a lot of good possibilities pointed out by the many contributors that are not mentioned in the article. New hybrid drivers, screen distraction, improper mirror adjustment, and following to close or coasting too long are the major contributors in my opinion.

    I agree with 18 wheeler and Old Bald Guy. They have pointed out two serious issues concerning speed and speed limits. I have found the Prius to be faster than most 200 HP cars when going 30 to 50 or 50 to 70. Some of those 200 HP cars were being driven 10 to 15 mph under the speed limit and then tried to cut me off when I passed them (not even a chance to cut me off!). They ride on your tail then for a couple of miles and then lose some of their rage and drop back. Since I many times drive five to 10 over the limit, how come these people are willing to ride your tail at speeds 15 to 25 mph faster than they were willing to go before someone passed them? How intelligent is that?

    And for Smug Alert: The Prius may be ugly to some people, but they sure are aerodynamic! Other than the first generation Insight, the second and third generations Prius have been the most aerodynamic production cars for the masses ever to be driven on the road. All other production cars just look aerodynamic and/or use horsepower to overcome their aerodynamic failings. Still, I must give you credit where credit is due. The Ford Fusion is a very acceptable hybrid in my book and does deserve looking at when shopping for a new car.

  • indigo

    It doesn’t help that Prius owners insist on driving 42 MPH in the fast lane on roads with posted speed limits of 55+.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    indigo, I do not know about those people. Most of the people out here in Colorado that I see in a Prius are moving right along with traffic. I know that I am often 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit and that is usually as fast as or faster than most traffic on the routes that I drive. I also know that my wife is always complaining that I am a “turtle”, even though I am passing traffic. So I suspect that she and the rest of the faster drivers on her route are faster than “five over”. Since the speeds on that route are 55 to 75 for a majority of the distance that she has to go, that means she is going 65+ to 85+ and still getting 48.5 mpg. I hate to say it, but out here in Colorado, doing 42 mph in a 55 mph zone is just because someone has decided to go that slow and has nothing to do with whether or not one drives a Prius.

  • Jon

    There may be something in this.
    Considering it’s stopping and starting and changing speed that reduces a cars efficiently. Are eco-conscious drivers inadvertently taking greater risks when pulling out at junctions, negotiating corners, roundabouts etc in a bid to minimize the amount of accelerating and decelerating they need to undertake to maximizing their efficiency? There is a tradeoff between efficiency and safety, and some people are and do take greater risks than others.
    However maybe it’s just that more Prius’es are driven my women than men.

  • Tommmeee

    I drive a (white) 2001 Prius with better visibility than the new ones. I did have one accident where somebody pulled into me at an intersection, but they hit me therefore their fault. The 2001 looks better than some of the new smaller cars available now, but is no longer produced. I recently drove a (gray) Toyota Corolla for a while. Everywhere I drove – people cut me off, turn in front of me, follow me too closely and many other problems. The cars are the same size but the COLOR is the problem. I drive our 2008 (white) Altima and these things seldom happen.
    Not the size, but perhaps the color—–.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Tommmeee, your point is well taken. Most emergency vehicles these days are red, yellow, white, or some combination of two or all three of those colors. Yellow is the preferred color because red does not show up as well at night and white does not show up as well against snow or light backgrounds. Personally, I have picked light colors in those color ranges for the cars that I have owned. In Colorado, the choice of a white car over a black car means the difference of ~155 degrees interior temperature versus ~180 degrees interior temperature on an 85 degree day.

  • Nathan Fundenberger

    Not true: I drive at least 100 miles a day for work (sort of delivery driving-city and highway). I decided a year ago to decrease my speed to the speed limit or 5 under when the limit is 75. In a year’s time, I haven’t gotten any tickets (I used to get around 2 a year), my driving is much less aggressive (no more trying to pass people who are going 2mph slower than I want to), I’m finding I get to the places I’m going in about the same time (speeding saves hardly ANY time-try it-you’ll see) and my driving is definitely safer. Do I have stats? Yep-a years worth! Are they on paper? Nope. The best reason to go the limit on the freeway (or a few under), my stress level is WAY down from what it was before. I don’t get angry at drivers anymore, cause they’re not in my way, and I’ve realized that when I used to get angry with them, for the most part, they were fully within the law, and I had no right to be upset. I have not caused or had ANY ANY ANY accidents by going less than the speed of traffic, thank you. What a lame (and tragically common) misconception.

  • Nathan Fundenberger

    Reply above concerning 18wheeler’s comment: I’m surprised more of them are not run over! It seems to me they are always going UNDER the speed limit and in the way of other traffic. A good rule of thumb is if you are not going to drive at the same general speed as other traffic you will have or cause accidents. That holds true at 40 MPH in town or 200 MPH on a race track.

  • dacrazyrn

    Hate city traffic and have never understood the concept of speeding. Hybrid or not. And I ride a motorcycle (even better mieage than your Prius). If everyone would just drive the damn speed limit…no passing, no swerving and dodging to cut someone off, less stress and road rage, could have one freakin lane of traffic so people not being cut off by last second exiters, etc, etc.
    I love waving at speeders flying by me on the bike. Then wave at them again when I am still right next to them at the traffic jam, someone like them caused. :-)

  • Lovin’ my V-10

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blowin’ down the road at 80 in a 55 only to have some dipwad in a Prius come up and tailgate me. One stomp on my loud pedal and they turn into a little dot in my rear view mirror in a hurry. But seriously, ridiculous hybrid owners (ALL hybrids are ridiculous, BTW), what’s your hurry? Is speeding like that good for the environment? I think not. Hypocrites. No more insurance discounts for you!!!

    P.S. How’s the environment going to deal with all of those expired batteries in the land fills? Yeah. Thought so.

  • ER

    Thats crazy talk. All hybrids dont speed. Dont generalize. 194,000 miles on the same batteries. Do you need a V-10? What are you compensating for?

  • Amanda

    How do you figure hybrids get into more accidents? you based your info in CA alone not the rest of the US. im a first responder and i would know . Me and along with many others are constantly researching hybrid accidents and so far there havn’t been many bad ones anyway . you must be referring to small fender benders because other wise you are lying to your customers.

  • Tiffany

    I would like to know how they figure it is cheaper to provide maintence for a hybrid then a conventional vehicle. I just priced a new starter and battery for my car. I only spent like 150 total for everything…..including labor. Hybrid batteries alone are a couple thousand a pop…..compared to like 75 for my battery. My battery even comes with a warranty and I can take it back to the place I got it from and get it replaced for free under 5 years. So tell them hybrid drivers to beat that! And the insurance agencys can suck it!

  • JJ

    Your Prius sucks, you do next to nothing for the environment and your car is as slow as molasses…do not drive that slow pos in the fast lane…stick to the right lane where you belong and make sure to keep out of the carpool lane unless you have more than one person in your car (your smug doesn’t count as a passanger).

    Toyota has always been one of the largest and best (wayyyy before the prius/hybrid craze), They just know how to change to the market and realized the market is full of idiots who will buy whatever is trendy and all they had to do was say it gets good MPG and pretend it is more green…which is a lie in more ways than one (btw there are a lot of cheaper diesel cars that do a lot better at being a car and get almost as good MPG).

    Your car can’t handle, is just as damaging to the environment, and you obviously aren’t a good driver…cause otherwise you’d never get a Prius.

    Your battery is more toxic than my whole car. But you don’t care about that…it’s all about saving you money on gas (which is debatable) and not about saving the environment.

  • carl

    The thing is most Prius drivers don’t care about cars from a driving point of view. Example: They can barely get them to 75mph but when they do they pull em right up on my bumper. Then they find out they can’t stop anywhere near as short as I can. Example: my mercedes will stop two car lengths shorter than a Prius from 60. These death trap cars should be required to display a slow moving vehicle flag and drive in the right hand lane with flashers on, just like all the other ‘weird load’ vehicles out there.

  • anonymous coward

    I know this post is over a year old, but come on, when you make fun of someone for poor spelling, make sure that you do more than just spell check your post, though “by” is properly spelled, “buy” would be the proper word to use in that sentence.

  • anonymous coward

    MIKE601

    1 year ago

    “I don’t think I’m better than you for driving a hybrid. I think I’m better than you because I can make a point without using profanity and I know how to spell (Camery?).

    If you a big enough idiot that you can’t drive a hybrid without being captivated by the gauges then you probably shouldn’t talk on a cell phone, eat, yell at your kids in the back or do anything else while driving. Heck, just by a bike, it will be best for everyone.”

    I know this post is over a year old, but come on, when you make fun of someone for poor spelling, make sure that you do more than just spell check your post, though “by” is properly spelled, “buy” would be the proper word to use in that sentence.

  • mark23

    The problem with the hybrid cars is that the drivers trust too much the car’s capacity to avoid accidents and are more likely to get distracted while driving. It’s just a guess, but i believe this is what make them get more tickets, perhaps a higher auto insurance quote would make them pay more attention to the road.