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Hybrid owners get more traffic tickets: study

November 12, 2010

The higher cost of repair for hybrid vehicles is perhaps not too surprising. The technology is still new and many collision repair shops will not attempt repairs, but will sublet them to a dealership. It is perhaps also true that there are not many substitutes for both mechanical and body parts available—yet.

But the most surprising finding of the study by Mitchell International, which collects data for insurance companies and collision repair facilities, was that hybrid owners get more traffic tickets than owners of gasoline-powered vehicles.

Asked to comment on this finding, Greg Horn, vice president of Industry Relations for Mitchell, said one reason might be that hybrid owners come predominantly from urban settings, where more traffic tickets are issued.

But he added that the profile of the hybrid owner is changing. Initially hybrid owners purchased their vehicles because of their environmental concerns. "While their politics may have been liberal," he said, "their driving habits were conservative, making them a very good risk to insure."

Now, however, he said hybrids draw the attention of those who simply are looking for better gas mileage and environmental consciousness is not an issue. Horn said, "This shift changed the hybrid driver profile and brought with it a change in the risk profile."

A study by Quality Planning, which helps automobile insurers identify rating errors, recover lost premiums, and minimize future losses, indicated that Priusowners will get .38 tickets per 100,000 miles of driving - as compared to .23 tickets per 100,000 miles for non-hybrid drivers