All Traffic Moves Faster With Hybrids In HOV Lane – Even The HOV Lane

Clean Air Vehicle Sticker - CaliforniaResearchers from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), Michael Cassidy and Kitae Jang, just completed a study about the effect on traffic speed caused by the inclusion and now exclusion of Hybrid cars from the HOV lane. Since 2005, California has allowed Hybrid vehicles access to the HOV lanes as an incentive to purchase low emission cars. That all ended in July 2011 when lawmakers decided to do away with that perk.

What happened? According to Cassidy and Jang’s analysis, it slowed down traffic in all lanes – even the HOV lanes with carpoolers only. It seems to go against logic but the now less-congested carpool lane drivers slowed down to match the reduced speeds of the more-congested highway traffic. And safety may be another reason HOV/carpool drivers are slowing down; they’re anticipating cars jumping in and out of their lane. [NY Times]