Friday, June 9, 2006
Many locations, including those in California and Virginia, are allowing hybrid car drivers to use lanes that are otherwise reserved exclusively for car-pool vehicles. This is bad policy, I suggest.
The reason for car-pool lanes is to relieve traffic congestion by encouraging shared riding and alternative means of transportation. Driving a hybrid, however, does not serve these goals -- indeed, with new hybrid SUVs, the low-emission vehicles aren't necessarily smaller cars that take up less space, and driving a hybrid does not mean that one drives less often. The benefits of hybrid vehicles is that they are fuel efficient and pollute less (I look forward to buying one once my '98 Saturn gives up). Although government encourages these benefits of hybrids, government also encourages people to contribute to charities and to eat their vegetables. Should these worthy acts entitle one to drive in the car-pool lanes?
By mixing the goals of traffic relief and fuel/pollution, governments risk losing popular support, which has always been tenuous at best, for car-pool lanes.