If you drive to and from work every day and have to commute through a densely-packed highway, you’re probably all too familiar with that feeling of envy as drivers in the HOV lane whiz by you (or, if you carpool with others, you may be one of those lucky passengers who gets to smile at all of those unfortunate souls as you casually drive by). But there may be a new way to get a coveted pass for the HOV lane, and no, we aren’t talking about a life-sized doll that looks uncannily human. In many urban areas, fuel-efficient and hybrid-electric vehicles are being allowed into these lanes.
High occupancy lanes are pretty standard these days on busy highways, and the purpose of HOV lanes is to reduce traffic congestion and fuel emissions by only allowing cars with two or more passengers, motorcycles, and fuel-efficient vehicles to travel in the lane. Many drivers agree with the 2005 federal law that allows fuel efficient cars to travel in the HOV lane on highways, but as a local Tennessee news source notes, just as many drivers are frustrated by the increasing number of hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles which are flooding HOV lanes.
Hundreds of miles away, Arizona drivers are also feeling the same mixed emotions. The Arizona Department of Transportation recently released its list of HOV-eligible vehicles, and the previously eligible Priuses, Honda Civic Hybrids, and Honda Insights are being joined by the Chevy Volt and Ford Fusion Energi, among other hybrid-electric cars. And as more energy-efficient vehicles are produced and sold, it’s expected that the number of hybrid and electric vehicles out on the road will only keep rising.
Although packed HOV highway lanes don’t sound like good situations, it’s certainly better for the economy to have more fuel-efficient cars replacing the gas-guzzlers, and it’s also a sign that the American economy is becoming strong enough to support so many new car sales. Road regulations may have to be rewritten to accommodate these vehicles, but it’s worth noting that this “problem” may actually be a blessing in disguise.