Thursday, April 27, 2006
Hybrid drivers face 'Prius backlash'
You have to be careful when you toss around the words "road rage" in California, because people are shot and killed fairly often on the freeways out here. Police say that's partly because the freeway system is so huge it's like a city unto itself, a city that once in a while has a shooting death.

But there is a kind of non-violent, low-level road rage building out here, and it has to do with special privileges for owners of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. It's been dubbed, "Prius Backlash."

First, the background: Under legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, drivers of the highest gas mileage hybrids -- only certain Toyotas and Hondas -- can now use California carpool lanes even if the driver is alone. If you try using those lanes alone in your Escalade, or even your Jetta, you'll get pulled over by a cop on a motorcycle, and the minimum fine is $271.00.

So not only is that nerdy guy you made fun of in high school now getting 52 miles per gallon, he's getting special treatment from Arnold himself, which allows him to zip past you in the carpool lane, while you sit stuck in traffic.

And here's the complicating factor: Not only is this a special privilege for people who buy certain cars, but the hybrid owners, as a group, have a reputation for driving slowly. Sometimes maddeningly so. That's because they get better gas mileage at lower speeds, and if they didn't care about gas mileage, then they wouldn't be driving a hybrid in the first place.

This is why Prius drivers like Jane Velez-Mitchell (Yes, the TV legal analyst who sometimes appears on CNN Headline News) say they've been yelled at, honked at, cut off in traffic and generally messed with.

Some advice: Don't mess with Jane unless you want an earful.

"I do get hostility, especially from SUV drivers," she told us. "And let's face it, they've made a really bad choice in their vehicle. ... If your little Prius is standing in the way of their Escalade, they get angry. Well, that's not how it works. Just because you drive a big Escalade doesn't mean you're more powerful or more important or should be able to get in front of me."

Folks on the other side of this divide say, essentially, "Lady, will you shut up and drive?"

You'll find these anti-hybrid sentiments on car forums like the one on edmunds.com, where someone writes, "Hey all you hyper milers, if you want to go slow and save gas, get a bicycle." The same writer, complaining at how cautiously some Prius drivers accelerate off the mark to conserve gas, claims hybrids are so slow "the Semi next to them with two trailers and towing the USS Nimitz has no problem out-accelerating them."

Despite the backlash, Velez-Mitchell has no plans to ditch her hybrid for a gas-guzzling speedster...or a semi.
Posted By Peter Viles, CNN Correspondent: 4:23 PM ET
  58 Comments
That's what I thought SUVs were for. To bully other drivers and to guzzle as much gas as possible.
Posted By Anonymous SJB, Redondo Beach, CA : 5:36 PM ET
Nothing against the "Prius", but my civil rights are being violated by banning drivers of other types of vehicles, no?

Why don't we skip this whole discussion and open up ANWAR and oil exploration off Florida, (Hey, Castro beat us to it!) Utah and Colorado so we can all truly be free of Mideast oil and free to drive whatever car we want to!
Posted By Anonymous Tina Chicago IL : 5:40 PM ET
Wow. Do you mean to say that if I still had my old 1988 Nissan Sentra, which got 40 miles to the gallon--really--and drove in to work with 5 or six people, the state of California can decree that I'm, what...? Not economical enough?? That is just INSANE. Fer blanks sake.

In my opinion, for what it's worth, I think the citizens of Cal. are more upset over the idea that it's only the wealthy folks who can afford vehicles such as the Prius, who are getting the breaks--and, let us be honest here--these are excactly the same folks who can afford to pay 4 bucks a gallon for gas without sacrifice. While it's the regular working slobs who have to see them whizzing by on their way to care-free suburbia. With all apologies to hybrid drivers, but I still say a carload of 4 in a car getting 28 miles to the gallon is better for the environment that I driver getting 50 miles to the gallon.

Also, one last opinion: BRING BACK DECENT, RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO THE SUBURBS!!!! NOT JUST CALIFORNIA, BUT EVERYWHERE!!!Thank you. Whew!
Posted By Anonymous Lauren, Wheeling, West Virginia : 5:40 PM ET
If the SUV owners were less concerned about prestige and more concerned about the environment, they would be driving a Prius, too!
Posted By Anonymous Carolyn, Atlanta, GA : 5:53 PM ET
Since when did driving cautiously become a bad thing? Even though I daresay drivers are almost worse in North Carolina, I saw my fair share of people who should've slowed down and exercised caution on the freeways in California.
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda, Chapel Hill, NC : 5:57 PM ET
I suggest that there should be minimum speed limit set for carpool lane and if any driver is going below that should be given a ticket.
For those who thinks its a race course, please try to realise that you are not the fastest.
Posted By Anonymous Nathan, San Jose, CA : 6:05 PM ET
Not only we get to drive solo in the carpool lane, we do not pay the parking meters too -Thanks to several L. A. City politician.

I used to get at least one ticket every other month because I like to park at the meters when going to THE Sport Club. I have never got a parking-meter ticket ever since.

A Proud Owner of Civic-HYBRID in West Los Angeles.

My previous car was a 320 ML MBZ SUV. I paid a premium to be one of the first ones to drive that. I switched to Civic not to save money on gas but to get previleges, parking and driving solo.
Posted By Anonymous Silvia, Los Angeles, CA : 6:06 PM ET
America should learn from Countries like Japan, India and China, how to place a public transportation system in place. Instead of spending billions in fixing Iraq, lets first fix our own infrastructure.
Posted By Anonymous Nathan, San Jose, CA : 6:09 PM ET
Eventually, we are going to have to wake up and face the fact that unlimited, cheap gasoline is not going to be coming back. Those days are gone.

Americans must realize we have to conserve and invest in other technologies to power our vehicles.

Until then, we should remove all the taxes we now have on gasoline, and create a tax structure based on the gas mileage of the vehicle we drive. This would encourage people to seriously consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle.

Investing in a reliable nationwide public transportation system is also necessary.

It's only going to get worse people.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 6:12 PM ET
I'm a big supporter of Hybrids, and I have no problem with them being allowed in the HOV lane.

However, just like any other driver, they should drive with the flow of traffic. There is nothing worse that someone sitting in the left hand lane doing 5 miles below the posted speed limit. It does save much gas (what 56 mph instead of 55 for these hybrids?) and it DOES cause accidents.

Drive green, but drive with the flow.
Posted By Anonymous Nate Smith, New York, NY : 6:13 PM ET
Hi Peter,
Speaking as a California driver, all I can say is I welcome ALL the little itty, bitty,gas saving cars on our gridlocked roads..For those of us who have small cars, it's been soooo long since we've had alot of company...You have no idea how being a small car in a sea of Tanks..aka SUV's, can make you feel..For years now I've been hounded from behind, with the message loud and clear..Move over slow poke, little one, The SUV is in a hurry..OK..Ok...Yes, come to think of it, it will be nice to have some company, as we inch our way, slowly through the parking lot called the 101 at rush hour..Prius, you are welcomed..At least I'll be able to see the road ahead of me over your small frame..Unfortunately, all I see is traffic..Oh, Well, there goes another tank of gas...Take Care..Happy driving to all, SUV's included..
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 6:15 PM ET
The real problem with the Prius is that it is too damn expensive for most people. They cost about $30K+ new in CA after tax and fees. The people who feel most pain from high gas prices (low income families) could never afford such a vehicle, hence could not benefit from the special privileges that Prius owners receive in carpool lanes.

The 'Holier than Thou' attitude taken by many (not all) Prius owners doesn't help the public's perception of them either.

There is nothing wrong with getting decent gas mileage, but please don't inconvenience other drivers in your quest for the highest mileage score, especially other drivers who cannot afford a luxury vehicle such as yours. (Yes, Prius is a luxury lifestyle-choice vehicle due to price)

All the above comments apply equally to drivers of big jacked-up trucks. Please share the road and be considerate of other drivers also. I myself drive a big truck but for utility, not image, and I do share the road :-)
Posted By Anonymous Michael, San Jose, CA : 6:17 PM ET
In theory, it sounds like a great idea - giving a perk to drivers who are doing their part to help the environment, and their wallets, by driving a hybrid.
However, it's a known fact that slow driving can cause accidents. I can't even count the number of times where I have been in a car going the speed limit when someone merges into my lane while going 20 mph, if not more, UNDER the speed limit. You have to slam on the brakes in order not to hit them.
Also, carpool lanes were invented to give people an incentive to commute with others while in turn saving energy and easing congestion. If the hybrid drivers go so slow then it's very possible that those who do carpool will stop using the lane. And if they don't use the lane because of the slow hybrid drivers they might begin to wonder why they even carpool since there really isn't the incentive of the "faster" lane anymore, and some might stop carpooling all together. Then we'll be back to how things were before carpool lanes came about. That certainly won't help the congestion, nor the environment.
For those driving hybrids in the carpool lane - you don't have to be a speed racer or go over the speed limit, but at least step on the gas.
Posted By Anonymous Despina, Charlotte, NC : 6:20 PM ET
The attitude of the SUV drivers has always been bad so what do you expect...courtesy?
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Jacksonville FL : 6:25 PM ET
Yes, hybrids are the way to go - good for them - but if you want to go 30, get in the slow lane!
Posted By Anonymous San Diego, CA : 6:28 PM ET
From Freudean Psychology, Hummer and big SUV drivers must be attempting to compensate for something when they buy and drive their big macho 9-14 MPG SUV.

It isnt often you see in the news "a PRIUS today caused a 4 lane pileup on the 5 killing 3 and injuring 20."
How many stories like that are shown weekly with SUV vehicles and drivers? I wonder why?

For all those that believe in "shut up and drive", try being a little less self centered for a change, the world isnt all about you.
You made a choice to buy an SUV and empty your wallet so you can sit in traffic.
Stop whining because you werent bright enough to care about gas economy and smart enough to realize some perks now go with that choice.
"Gas is too expensive, how can I afford it?" (Sitting in a Ford Escalade pumping in 40 gallons of gas.)
...do we really need to explain the relationship between a big vehicle and a lot of gas to fuel it?
Posted By Anonymous Darren Cannon, Seattle WA : 6:45 PM ET
I drive a old 240D Mercedes, I go slow (it is not capable of going fast). I use recycled fryer oil as 50% of my fuel. Yes, I go slow, if you want to floor your 5 Ltr v-8, dump fuel through your massive gas gussler and pass me fine, you seldom make it THROUGH the next light any faster than me, only more anxious (usually just more pissed off). Relax, live longer!
Posted By Anonymous Frank Kurchinski, Tarpon Springs, FL : 6:57 PM ET
So only wealthy individuals can afford hybrids? The Prius costs only $21,700, a far cry from being " only a rich person's vehicle." People are missing the point. The point is to encourage hyprid technology as a means to achieving energy conservation. Complain all you want, I'm the one passing you in the carpool lane.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, San Francisco CA : 7:05 PM ET
As I hybrid owner... I'm laughing all the way to the bank...and by the way, I only paid $17,500 for my Honda Civic Hybrid in 2003 and I got a $2000 deduction not really a luxury car price. It was cheaper than a used Subaru. I make less than $30,000 so I'm certainly not "elite".
And no one is taking away rights by allowing a higher mileage car to ride in the carpool lane. And as far as ANWR goes, if everyone DID carpool even once a week - that would more than make up for the dribble of oil they'd get after scraping up the arctic tundra.
Posted By Anonymous Shannon Dover, NH : 7:08 PM ET
Lauren with the Sentra: Yes you can drive the HOV lane. However, The only cars acceptable in the lane WITHOUT at least 2 passengers are hybrids.

I do not own a hybrid, but if they were given permission to drive on that lane due to their fuel efficiency, then driving slowly (I'm assuming ~60mph?)to maximize that efficiency seems in the best spirit and appreciation of the law.
Posted By Anonymous Erem, Palo Alto, CA. : 7:09 PM ET
Tell me this is not so.

Hope everyone is enjoying the gas pump payments.
Posted By Anonymous LR, Torrance, California : 7:15 PM ET
The dispute here has nothing to do with SUV versus Hybrid. As a Californian who spends hours on the highways for business and "pleasure", I have a serious issue with the Governator permitting anyone, including motorcycles, to ride in the HOV(Carpool) lanes with just one person in/on the vehicle. The purpose of installing the HOV lanes was to help ease the congestion and encourage people to rideshare in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the freeways. If Arnold wants to reward Hybrid owners for their ecologically friendly cars lets have the price of gas be based on how many MPGs you get. Gas guzzlers will spend even more, hybrids spend less and no matter what, we still keep the HOV lanes for carpooling. Good luck to the CHP to now have to figure out what cars are hybrids and what aren't...my 6-cylinder Highlander looks just like the new Highlander Hybrid.
Posted By Anonymous Goodrich, San Diego, CA : 7:18 PM ET
Ach...I hate the arrogance of the huge SUV drivers (the SUV are huge not the drivers)...and I hate the slow drivers who presume to impose their (lack of) speed on you...and I hate bicycles usurping car lanes...
Folks, really, why don't you just walk? Can't you see I'm the only legitimate driver here?
Posted By Anonymous Brigitte, Montreal, Canada : 7:18 PM ET
I read an article a couple of years ago that said if every citizen of the United States drove a car of any type, not just hybrids, that got 40-50 miles to the gallon then the US could join OPEC because we woud have a surplus of crude oil production. US citizens are not used to thinking beyong their immediate environment and looking at the big picture.

I say demand cars that get better gas mileage in all size classes. Car manufacturers can make then, they have the technology but the have all bought into big oil. When big oil makes record profits, where is their motivation to make an economical car? There isn't one as long as citizens of this country keep buying SUVs.

Be a responsible citizen, demand fuel efficient cars. And don't belittle or insult or even directly assault those who are forward thinking enough to want this country to not have to rely on oil imports.
Posted By Anonymous Bucky, Phoenix, AZ : 7:19 PM ET
It amazes me how many folks think we should "open up ANWAR and oil exploration of Florida".
Like that's a solution to the problem.
Man, when are we (Americans) going to
see we've been led by the nose and have been encouraged to become addicted (to oil) and like addicts we find it easy to use any excuse and whatever means it takes to continue our addictive behavior.

I guess when we finally can't breathe the air and have polluted every single inch of this beautiful blue ball... we might change.
Nope. That probably won't happen until every single drop of fossil fuel on earth is gone. No more gasoline, no more petroleum products like plastics... the end of society as we know it?
Well, that's if the unthinkable, but unfortunately possible "World Oil Wars" don't kill us all off before that.

Keep on smilin', folks... but the future aint' pretty if we keep on keepin' on.
Posted By Anonymous Les, Houston, TX : 7:22 PM ET
I am far from wealthy, and I love my Prius, but for my daily commute I take the commuter train from the suburbs to the city then hike to my office. I have to admit though, I didn't but the Prius for the gas mileage, it is a pretty amazing piece of engineering!
Posted By Anonymous Jay -- DesPlaines, IL : 7:36 PM ET
"Prius backlash" is such a sick attitude. Hello ..... this is NOT only about $$$$ gas price, it's about the environment, it's about this earth that we're borrowing from the future generation.

Any idea how to increase people's awareness about the importance of 'environmentally friendly" behavior, Anderson? Or you do not really care.
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie Green, New Orleans, LA : 7:46 PM ET
I have a Honda Civic Hybrid and commute 45 miles each way to work. I spend most of that time in the left lane, averaging 75-80 mph and getting about 40mpg. We hybrid drivers aren't all slugs. And the Hummer people REALLY hate being passed by a hybrid!
Posted By Anonymous Vicki Dover DE : 7:55 PM ET
Car pool lanes are a priviledge not a right for all. No matter what vehical you drive, you can use them if you have the minimum number of passengers.

I think it is a great incentive to drive an ultra environmentally friendly car rather than that huge, heavy, SUV.


Yesterday when I was filling up my Toyota Echo (~35mpg btw) someone offered to trade me their SUV on a lift kit. I had to chuckle at that.
Posted By Anonymous Katrina, Tucson, AZ : 8:10 PM ET
You go girl. The big guys are just jealous and you are smarter.
Posted By Anonymous Doug Butler, Winston-Salem, N.C. : 8:15 PM ET
No, Lauren, it doesn't mean that 5 people riding in your Nissan would be ticketed for being in the carpool lane. It means that you would be ticketed for driving alone in the carpool lane.

It is not only wealthy folks and "those who can afford 4 bucks a gallon for gas without sacrifice" who can buy Prii. A base model Prius costs just under $22K. Taking into account the tax credit, Prius pricing is pretty much equivalent to the pricing on a base level Toyota Camry ($19K)--one of the best selling cars in the US.
Posted By Anonymous EH, Rootstown, OH : 8:38 PM ET
I don't think people are asking hybrid owners to ditch their hybrids. Just stop driving those cars as if you are 100 years old with cateract occlusions on each eye. DRIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! Oblivious and ginger drivers ruin the road for the rest of us. Drivers in Seattle are notoriously awful.
Posted By Anonymous Craig Seattle, WA : 8:45 PM ET
To those of you complaining that you can't afford a Prius - it's not a rich man's car. You can get one 25K or less - the same price as an Accord or a Camry...or a SMALL 4X4. So kwitcherbitchin' and start driving less. We were never entitled to cheap oil.
Posted By Anonymous J. Guha, New Brunswick, NJ : 8:59 PM ET
I drive a Prius. We can get 45 mph and still drive 70. Speeding doesn't get someone there that much faster. It just causes Motor vehicle crashes and can kill someone. If the big vehicles drove a little slower, they would get better mileage also.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Mahan, Modesto, California : 9:10 PM ET
Personally, I think people in California should feel lucky they can even get hybrid cars. The closest place you can buy one to where I live is about 50 miles away.
Posted By Anonymous Kristi, Charleston, IL : 9:27 PM ET
Well, I for one, am very happy with the high gas prices. Yep, everything will be getting more expensive. My food will be more expensive. My heat will be more expensive. I will have to cut back on my travels.

But, really, no one was going to pay any attention to the the problem of our dependence on oil unless there were price hikes. When oil was cheap, we didn't care if it came from Iran, Iraq, or the Devil himself. Now, with prices above $3.00 a gallon, we actually looking into alternative energy solutions that provide us both national security and cleaner air.
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Boston, MA : 9:32 PM ET
Jane experiences the same thing as other small car (nonhybrid) drivers. The Escalade and Hummer people are sick, they do not know it. Most will be abandoned in a few years. Gas prices are going much higher. My warning to everyone - You Will Pay
Posted By Anonymous Kevin, Talking Rock GA : 9:40 PM ET
If you happen to live in Franklin County, Virginia, you might see my Tideland Pearl Prius race past you in a big hurry. I drive my Prius pretty hard and still manage to get 46mpg. That's about 30mpg higher than my 2005 Dodge Ram (yes, it has a Hemi) and about 33mpg higher than my Ford E-350. Truth be told I bought the Prius just to bring my fleet average up to 25mpg, har har.

Lauren your 1988 Sentra was a good car for it's time but it actually only managed 36mpg at 55mph on level ground in perfect weather. I doubt you'd get 28mpg if you drove like I do. Besides, equally important is the 1988 Sentra's combustion emissions, which in all likelihood are many times more dirty than the thirstiest SUV made today.

If people wanted public transportation in the suburbs then there would be public transportation in the suburbs. But people don't want it. We have had "Smart" buses in West Central Virginia providing public transport in the Suburbs for years. They average about one passenger an hour. Ironic when you think of all that fuel used by the "Smart" bus to drive constantly for eight hours and ultimately only transport about ten people.
Posted By Anonymous Sean Pecor, Boones Mill VA : 9:59 PM ET
Hybrids deserve to get special treatment. People drive them for good reasons. They save resources and are much less harmful to the environment.
And for the comment that "4 people in a car that gets 28 miles/gallon is being discriminated against"...
Don't be stupid.They can still use the HOV lane. It's not just for hybrid owners. It's for more than one driver, and hybrid cars. As it should be. And for all you SUV drivers alone in your behemoth gas-guzzler: wise up.
Posted By Anonymous D. Williams Richmond, VA : 10:00 PM ET
i personally despise SUV and the socker-mom types who drive them . I hope gas goes to $5.00 per gallon.
Posted By Anonymous jack johnson knoxville,tn : 10:22 PM ET
I very much dislike the SUVs and huge pick up trucks that surround me in Houston (I drive a sensible car - Honda Accord, 30-35mpg) but I'm starting to dislike the piousness of the Prius owners. Some of us have kids to put through school, old parents to take care of, and a zillion other commitments so we don't want to spend the extra money on a Prius. If they have the money and want to make a statement with the car they drive, that's fine with me. But why let them drive in HOV lanes by themselves? HOV lanes are there to encourage people to car pool in order to cut down on congestion which creates traffic jams and a waste of gas. One person in one car adds to congestion and I don't care how many mpg that car gets.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Houston, TX : 10:29 PM ET
Apparently those of you without a Prius in your driveway aren't aware of their potential. They were NOT intended to get high mileage - they were intended to be ultra-low pollution vehicles; the high mileage is purely a by-product. THAT IS WHY THEY EARNED THE SPECIAL PRIVILEDGES IN California, folks!

As for you weasles who are whining about it -- (a) they are NOT expensive when you use the term SUV in the same article, (b) they can accelerate with the best of them (well, not quite -- my Prius classic was beat exactly once at a green light by a Plymouth Duster built for the Duke boys) and (c) I get more annoyed than any of you when I am behind a Subaru-wanna-be driving their new Prius in pokey mode.

Like "South Park" said, Prius owners cause "Smug alerts" among some of the owners.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Madison, WI (who owns 2 Prii and counting) : 10:34 PM ET
It's your 'civil right' to chill in your Hummer, Escalade, Navigator, 'he-man' heavy-duty 4x4 monster truck, RV, or other cachet of excess .... inching along in the non-HOV lanes. It's part of the cost of "livin' large". Let SUVs use the HOV lanes...with at least six aboard.

Alas, I'm not so sure on the fairness of the well heeled Prius set avoiding the HOV rules. When one does the arithmetic, a 27mpg car with four car poolers still makes the lone oh, so hip Priusers look about as conservation conscious in the carpool lane as that outgoing Big Oil CEO with the $400mil retirement..the guy who looks like Jabba the Hutt wardrobed from Brooks Brothers.

Out here in the non-HOV boonies, the loudest complaints at the pumps come from the ones with the biggest vehicles. Duh? Remember when Soccer Moms drove minivans, not Escalades? 'We gotta have the F250 Dually truck....Junior was thinking of taking up the Tuba.' That illogic makes me think of the line "No weed means no weed!"...for the adults. Jack up the weight and Gas Guzzler taxes, and reduce the per gallon fuel levies. Sensible vehicles will then be in vogue again. Make the brainless and pompous pay for the thrill.

For the next lively discussion topic, how about requiring real mufflers and catalytic converters for the Harley Davidson set. :)
Posted By Anonymous Charlie, Keyser, WV : 10:40 PM ET
Actually, it's the "rich" (actually middle class with frugal tendencies) that buy these things when they cost too much - economies of scale mean that prices should come down after the early adopters overpay. Anyone who aspires to own a fuel-efficient car should thank the poor shmucks who aren't saving a dime (battery cost eats up the gas savings) so the rest of us can save money in the future. Same deal with solar in many communities.

Sorry folks, but we should be doing more to reduce oil consumption. We've known that since the 70's. Now OPEC's jerking our chain again, and it's a national emergency? Since when is facing the expected consequence of irresponsibility and poor planning a national emergency?
Posted By Anonymous Tracy, Orangevale, CA : 10:43 PM ET
It's great that the Gov. has given this right to Hybrid owners. Kudos Arnie!!
Consider this; It takes roughly about 57 barrels of oil to make one of these vehicles. Although Hybrid is the right step forward, how about a hybrid that is constructed of recycled product. That would be the real step forward.
Posted By Anonymous R.L.W., New Mexico : 11:04 PM ET
*This* hybrid driver isn't in the carpool lanes (full of idiots trying to do 80mph) and is keeping up with the 55-to-65mph traffic fine. The lsowpokes are the same people. probably, who would be slow in any other vehicle (I've had to brake for enough of them).
And the government is flat broke: where are they going to get money for this $100 bribe to let them drill in ANWR and relax pollution rules? Raise the debt ceiling, *again*?
Posted By Anonymous P J Evans, Chatsworth, CA : 11:14 PM ET
Its a great use of our resources to dedicate a full lane for "Carpool" use only to have it go unused while 5 lanes of traffic sit idling for more than an hour because there is not enough roads to handle the traffic.

It's quite simple: Less cars OR more roads. And if people won't opt for less cars, why do we allow the environmental minority to deny us less roads, as well? Particularly as that is so damaging to the environment!

"Don't just do something. Stand there."
Posted By Anonymous WT, Galveston, TX : 11:22 PM ET
Lauren in West Virgina,

You do realize that the Prius only costs $21,000 while the most common SUV's in America cost:
Expedition $32,000
Explorer $26,000
Suburban $36,000
Tahoe $33,000.
I'd say the wealthy folks they can pay $4 dollars a gallon for gas would be the people driving the SUV's, not the $21,000 dollar Prius.
If they are not endangering traffic by driving at the speed they are then this smacks of jealousy to me. Maybe if you drive a land yacht, excuse me, SUV you should consider driving a bit slower yourself to help your gas mileage. Or, here is a really crazy idea, get rid of the SUV that you don't really need and buy a car that is more economical like... a Prius! Then you to can drive in the carpool lane.
Last night I was filling up at when an H3 Hummer pulled up next to me. The driver got out and immediately began crying to whomever was on the other end of his cell phone about how much it was going to cost him to fill up his tank. As he walked inside I strolled around to the back of the land yacht and yep, sure enough, it still had the paper dealer tags on it. If you are silly enough to buy a vehicle like this you deserve to drop $60+ dollars everytime you want to fill up.
Posted By Anonymous Nolan, Phoenix AZ : 11:27 PM ET
The comments above prove how uneducated our society is. A brand new Prius costs $20,000. If you think that is expensive I assume you are driving a Pinto. In addition, regardless of how many people you have in your old 1988 Nissan, the emissions from the Nissan is what is destroying the earth. Educate yourselves.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Povill, Las Vegas, Nevada : 11:44 PM ET
Don't forget that the "hybrid generation" generation started in 1917 with a Woods Dual Power and was a flop. There was an attempt to respark it in the early 70's with a "federal clean car incentive program Buick Skylark," but the program was shot down by the EPA. Does anyone in here actually think the transition to hybrid cars is going to smooth...I think not.
Posted By Anonymous B.H., Evansville, IN : 11:49 PM ET
I'd take a Hybrid Vehicle over that lousy $100 dollar check that the GOP want to fling at us like scraps from their dinner table.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, San Diego, CA : 12:44 AM ET
Your story on Prius backlash is a little on the sensational side. I drive the LA freeways everyday in my Prius and have never received or seen backlash. I also haven't seen Prius drivers holding up traffic any more or less that other drivers.

Also, some of the other comments are a little goofy. The rich people in CA aren't driving a Prius (price starts at $22k). They're driving luxury cars and especially big SUV's.

The whole point of letting high MPG cars drive solo in the commuter lane is to incentivize less fuel consumption... a concept that is apparently new to the person who believes their civil rights are being violated if they can't drive a honk'n big SUV solo in the commuter lane.
Posted By Anonymous DWL, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA : 2:09 AM ET
Same for bike riders here but at the opposite scale... on my Ducati SS900 I usually do 85 without problems and can outrun the most souped up fast and furious like idiocy that tries to race me. And I am getting 45-55 mpg while only having paid $10k for a vehicle that hardly depreciates and has a tremendous sex appeal (mmm... those legs from her wrapped on me when I ride her to go out). And of course we not only have carpool lane privileges but also can park where we damn well please (read: on the sidewalk in front of the locale where we go) and also can split lanes when we want to.

Have fun cagers!!!
Posted By Anonymous Marc Ridel, San Diego, CA : 2:14 AM ET
I drive a Prius, and yes, sometimes I drive slowly to get better gas mileage. However, when I drive slowly, I always make sure that I'm in the slow lane and that there's not someone behind me that I would be inconveniencing.

I only wish other drivers would be more considerate - not only Prius owners, but all drivers who believe it is their right to "camp" in the fast lane, regardless of how many cars are behind them or how much slower they are going than the other cars around them.

The problem is not what kind of car you drive, or what privileges are accorded to whom. The problem is that when many people get behind the wheel, they transform into aggressive, arrogant, rude, selfish monsters. Until we figure out a way to solve this problem, there will continue to be resentment, anger, and road rage over trendy "issues" that have little to do with the fundamental problem.
Posted By Anonymous Daren, San Diego, CA : 2:33 AM ET
I drive a Prius. In fact yesterday on Hwy 80 in CA I dealt with numerous 18 wheelers who were on my bumper even at 70 miles per hour. I have noticed this on other freeways as well. Now I know why! Well, now I can laugh because I'm getting 50 mpg. So take that you big wheelers!
Posted By Anonymous J Hight, San Francisco, CA : 4:25 PM ET
Get on a motorcycle and shut up with all this whining.

Better yet, stay home and let those of us smart enough to ride bikes have the roads to ourselves.
Posted By Anonymous GregR, Seattle, WA : 4:28 PM ET
Hey SUV haters, get bent. I have 5 kids and have no choice but to drive a Suburban, that for the record, gets 20 MPG on the freeway.
Posted By Anonymous Jimmy, Corpus Christi, TX : 4:29 PM ET
This is similar to mobile phones and MP3 players were a couple of years ago, before hybrid cars. The rich kids are going to be the only ones who can afford them at first, but as they become mainstream: the prices will fall and the quality of the driving/gas milage will increase. I say: let them have their HOV lanes! The more rich people who are able to afford/drive them now, turns into more used-Hybrids slash inexpensive Prius-cars for ME to buy in the future! The ones who can afford them now are the guinnea pigs: as soon as it catches on and people learn that fuel-efficincy is more than just a phase/passing trend, then we'll all be able to buy a hybrid/electric car and travel around on 60 miles per the gallon every day.
Posted By Anonymous David, North Logan, Utah : 12:42 PM ET
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