The State of California has requested authority from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to allow hybrid vehicles to drive in High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), or carpool, lanes with only a single occupant. State officials, treasurer Phil Angelides, Caltrans director Jeff Morales, and California Environmental Protection Agency secretary Winston Hickox jointly announced the proposal in a teleconference. Eligible vehicles would include fuel cell vehicles and gasoline/electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda’s Insight and Civic Hybrid. "We've worked very hard on a state and national level to encourage the use of hybrid vehicles like the Prius and we hope many more states follow suit by allowing hybrids with one occupant to drive in the HOV lane," said Toyota Motor Sales, USA chief operating officer Jim Press. "For any driver stuck in traffic, this would be the equivalent of a 'get out of jail free' card." "If this plan is enacted, it would allow [hybrid] owners to drive down the highway knowing they're getting high fuel [economy], helping improve air quality and reducing traffic congestion all at the same time," said Press. "It would be terrific if the HOV lanes became known as Hybrid-Occupancy Vehicle lanes."

Originally posted on Fleet Financials