If you've never lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may not have heard of "Mr. Roadshow," the nickname of San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Richards.

Nor will you know how important his columns are, covering traffic, congestion, freeways, law enforcement, cars, and all the other topics associated with the region's crowded roads.

Now Richards has weighed in on a prevalent, much-debated myth among California drivers: the supposedly slow and unaware driving of supposedly self-satisfied Toyota Prius drivers who clog up carpool lanes.

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Priuses replaced huge sport-utility vehicles as the target of California driver loathing lately--but now he suggests that the Prius is being displaced as an object of loathing for other drivers by the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

A new Mr. Roadshow column published on Monday conjures the image of a contented Leaf driver, proud possessor of a California "white sticker" permitting single-occupancy use of the carpool lane.

That Leaf silently motors along in the carpool lane, passing the choked stop-and-go traffic over in the regular lanes to which gasoline-car drivers are condemned.

So far, so good.

Except the stereotype suggested by a seemingly large number of Roadshow readers has the Leaf is traveling at exactly the speed limit--thereby holding up an entire array of impatient plug-in hybrid drivers behind, not to mention those at the helm of super-fast Tesla Model S electric luxury sedans.

The column is worth reading, as are the many, many, many comments.

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Leaf owners, not surprisingly, have snorted with derision at some of the extreme portrayals--including the notion that anyone in a Leaf would forgo turning on their lights in a quest to conserve battery energy.

And Richards isn't above a bit of sly controversy-stoking.

But the almost 2 million U.S. Prius owners out there may secretly feel a sense of relief that they may no longer be the target of such intense and directed loathing by very, very impatient California drivers.

Schadenfreude, anyone?


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