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Kicking EV drivers out of carpool lanes is exactly what California shouldn't be doing

Kicking EV drivers out of carpool lanes is exactly what California shouldn't be doing
The red clean air vehicle decal allows motorists to use the HOV lane even if they're not carpooling. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: If up to 25% of drivers in the carpool lanes are scofflaws, and a mere 8% are driving clean cars, then the only reason California is invalidating the decals of more than 200,000 clean-car motorists is that it is easier than targeting the drivers who should not be in the lanes.

The intent of the law — to reduce the number of cars in the HOV lanes — misses the point. These lanes were never intended to limit the number of drivers who are qualified to use them. Instead, they were intended to encourage drivers to carpool and, later, to buy high-mileage vehicles. Given that California strives to be a leader in battling climate change, it seems counterproductive to discourage people from buying electric or low-emission vehicles.

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When enacting the new law to speed up the traffic in HOV lanes, the Legislature made an expedient choice — a choice that is diametrically opposed to the state’s environmental goals. The Legislature should rescind the law and figure out a fairer and more environmentally sound way to reduce the number of cars in the HOV lanes.

Gary Barton, Santa Ana

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To the editor: I have no sympathy for electric car drivers losing HOV lane access. I do have sympathy for all of us whose gas tax money pays for these lanes but do not have access.

Providing incentives to drivers for reducing the number of cars on the road sounds great. People ride-sharing to work or school do that, but most HOV drivers do not help achieve this goal and are therefore violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the California Vehicle Code.

The solution to this problem is to abolish the fraud of HOV lanes so everyone can use them, including even the electric car drivers who pay no gas tax.

John Moran, Thousand Oaks

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To the editor: Laws should encourage good behavior. California is doing the opposite by kicking thousands of electric vehicles out of HOV lanes because they are clogged by solo-driving scofflaws.

The solution is simple. Change the law to define a carpool as a vehicle with a person in the front passenger seat whose head can be seen by cameras along the freeway. A parent with a toddler in the backseat is not a carpool.

Cameras like the ones already used in FasTrak lanes could verify compliance. Inflatable dummies would have to be more lifelike than Otto in the movie “Airplane” to fool the cameras.

Russell Stone, Westchester

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To the editor: Not only are the scofflaws abusing the HOV lanes on the freeways, they are also abusing the HOV lanes on the onramps. I predict that the meters at those onramps will soon be useless as almost every driver will start illegally using the HOV lane.

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I know the California Highway Patrol is spread too thin, but we need some enforcement before the situation gets entirely out of hand.

John Williams, Hermosa Beach

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To the editor: Does it really surprise anyone that California is taking the easiest way out to reduce congestion in HOV lanes?

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the left lane is not always a dedicated HOV lane. During rush hour, a carpool is three or more occupants, not two.

While I’m not suggesting adopting that system statewide, it makes more sense than penalizing drivers who currently use the lanes legally and were early adopters of low-emission technology.

Meryl Lande, Hermosa Beach

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