In a move sure to rankle some, the latest version of the Chevy Volt, General Motors’s gas/electric hybrid vehicle will soon be allowed to travel in the mostly traffic-free California High Occupancy Vehicle (Carpool) Lanes whether or not the driver has any passengers riding with her.

This is thanks to the new Low Emission Package version of the Chevy Volt which means it qualifies for use in the Carpool Lanes alongside other hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, which has always been clean enough to qualify.

Unlike the Prius, the Chevy Volt uses a gasoline powered engine to supply an electrical charge to the on-board batteries giving it a much larger range than almost any other hybrid vehicle on the road. However, before the Low Emission Package, the Volt’s gasoline powered engine also resulted in much higher emissions than most other hybrids.

But we’re here to talk about Carpool Lanes, not hybrid vehicles. Carpool Lanes are meant to encourage people to share rides together to help reduce traffic congestion. These lanes are limited to use only by drivers who have passengers with them. No single riders allowed. Anyone who violates this rules face stiff penalties including a minimum $381 fine.

Defensive drivers know better than to try and thwart efforts to monitor the HOV lane. California Highway Patrol reports finding and fining drivers who have used plastic dummies, blow-up dolls and pets as their “passengers.” Doing this is almost as dumb as driving with a big sign on your antenna that says, “I’m a dummy.” It’s also a perfect way to get a citation, fine and points added to your license.

So do yourself a favor and if you’re not in a carpool, don’t try to drive in the carpool lane.

A trip to an online defensive driving course will help you get the points off your license, but nothing can cure stupid.

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