Hybrids Stay in HOV Lanes
The Virginia Department of Transportation reminds us this morning that the law allowing hybrids to travel in the carpool lanes has been extended for one year until July 2009. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) signed House Bill 1014 last week.
Letting hybrids with solo drivers into the carpool lanes may have been a good idea back in the days when hybrids were new and the government sought to encourage ownership of fuel-efficient vehicles. Today, it's just an entitlement that allows people to drive by themselves in lanes built for carpoolers.
Hybrids that don't meet the HOV lane rules for occupancy can be used in the lanes on I-95/395 and I-66, but the rules are significantly different on those two highways.
Here's how VDOT explains it:
Vehicles registered for clean fuel license plates on or after July 1, 2006, are not permitted to use the I-95/395 HOV lanes from 6 to 9 a.m. or from 3:30 to 6 p.m. However, they are allowed to use all other HOV lanes in Virginia during HOV hours, including I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road in Northern Virginia.
The Department of Motor Vehicles created a clean special fuel license plate for hybrid vehicles registered July 1, 2006, and after. The new plate has a distinctly different design to help Virginia State Police enforce the HOV restrictions.
Vehicle owners with clean special fuel license plates registered before July 1, 2006, may renew or transfer their plates to a newly purchased qualifying vehicle and continue to be exempt from HOV requirements until July 1, 2009.
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