Collision course?

One trend: California’s carpool lanes are filling up and slowing down. Another trend: Californians are buying hybrid cars as fast as manufactures can make them. Now a new law grants certain hybrid owners access to carpool lanes, even if they’re driving alone:

California hybrid car owners, already leveraging super-efficient gas mileage during a time of $3-a-gallon unleaded, are flooding the state with more than 1,000 requests a day for permits that will allow them to zip into carpool lanes even if they drive solo. More than 12,000 people have applied for the special permits since they became available Aug. 10, said Bill Branch, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. So far, about 1,500 stickers have been sent out. … The Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that about 65,670 hybrids are eligible in California …

Something’s gotta give:

There are concerns, however, about whether the carpool lanes will become too crowded. The law allows the DMV to issue 75,000 permits, but it allows the program to be suspended after 50,000 are issued, depending on congestion in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes. That will be determined by state and federal officials.

What’s going to happen when carpool lanes are just as sluggish as the regular lanes? Will officials really try to get between hybrid owners and this new perk? Stay tuned. Whole article here.