As a recent hybrid car purchaser I have quickly noticed some distinct safety benefits from driving a hybrid car over a standard motor vehicle beyond the obvious gas mileage improvement. However, even the best hybrid car can get less than anticipated gas mileage if you drive it inappropriately. Here are a few of potential safety benefits from driving hybrid cars:
- No more Quick Draw McGraw – despite myths that hybrid vehicles have no pick-up, which is flat-out wrong, there is an obvious fuel economy benefit from accelerating gradually, instead of trying to win the Indy 500 after every stop light. Not only do you score better on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency rating, but you are driving in a safer fashion by not being such a lead foot. Are there times you need to accelerate quickly? Of course, and my Ford C-Max delivers speed when and if I need it. But, the need for an express start is the exception, hardly the rule.
- Gradual braking – since the hybrid battery is partially recharged by braking, it is more beneficial to gradually brake rather than slam them on. Each time I brake and come to a halt, I am scored on how well I did for fuel efficiency. Hopefully such actions by more drivers will lead to less rear end collisions and safer driving on roadways with traffic signals.
- Reasonable highway speeds – my hybrid is designed to get the best highway fuel mileage at 65 miles per hour, not 70, 75, 80, etc. like many drivers barreling down the freeway (you know who you are in SE Michigan). I set my speed around 68-70 miles per hour as here in Michigan as we have a 70 mph speed limit on expressways. That is plenty fast enough for most occasions, leaves me room to pass slower vehicles at a safe speed without the need to break the sound barrier, and provides more time to react to anything happening ahead of me on the road.
My suggestion would be for driver’s education courses utilize hybrid cars for on-road training. Hopefully, the hybrid car will aid the student and the teacher in producing better, safer, and more responsible drivers than are seen on our nation’s highways and byways.