Have you ever been alone in your car, wallowing in traffic, looked across to the empty carpool lane, and thought about making a break for it?

California plug-in car drivers can do just that--and now they'll be able to for several more years.

The California Legislature has passed two bills that extend access to the state’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes until 2019 for solo drivers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

The exemption was set to expire in 2015.

Currently, green and white stickers give plug-in hybrids and electric cars, respectively, access to California's HOV lanes without passengers.

Green stickers are for those cars that can operate partially in zero-emission mode, but also have combustion engines that create emissions.

White stickers are for "zero-emission vehicles" that include battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) also qualify for white stickers under the state's current rules.

Since the program began in January 2012, the California DMV has issued 16,000 stickers, nowhere near the cap of 40,000 it set at the start.

"California has always [led] the way when it comes to lowering our carbon footprint," Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) told ABC 30 Fresno.

"These standards entice Californians to utilize the most environmentally friendly vehicles,"

The bill to extend carpool-lane access had been passed by the California Assembly back in May; a companion made it through the Senate earlier this week.

Next, the bill will go to Governor Jerry Brown, generally a supporter of green initiatives, who is expected to sign it into law.


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