Due to an incident just before Christmas, that involved an alleged drunk driver and the destruction of my trusty Honda Element, I am now the proud owner (actually, lessee) of the Honda Insight hybrid car pictured above. (BTW, it's only marginally ironic that the car is called an Insight, given my job title..)
As gas prices continue their inexorable rise it's easy to presume that the benefit of driving a hybrid vehicle, with a 10 gallon tank that can get up to 52 mpg, is only of a budgetary nature. Certainly that is a benefit. The larger benefit though, is in the gaming element of driving the car and how it affects my driving behavior.
The Insight has what Honda calls an Eco Assist system that allows the driver complete control over how efficient she wants the car to be. (There's a game to play on the Insight website that shows how it works.) It simply asks you to drive a) by not breaking the law and sticking to the speed limit, b) by moderating your takeoff from the stop sign or green light, e.g. don't floor it and brake hard, and c) by attempting to keep the economy needle (the gauge on the left in the image below) in the green. Green = good, blue = bad. There is an easy-to-use switch on the steering wheel that allows you to click through the different computer modes to see how well you are doing at conserving gas.
It really is that simple. The end result is actually safer driving which benefits others as well as myself, and huge savings in gas use - environmentally and budget friendly too. Adding the Gas Buddy app to my iPhone didn't hurt either.