Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hybrid-Driving Smoker - Smell the Irony

I suspect that in most places, people buy hybrid gas/electric cars in
order to save fuel and help reduce negative environmental impacts
associated with driving cars. In Northern Virginia, single hybrid
drivers (who bought their hybrid cars prior to 2006, I think) can also
drive in the High-Occupancy-Vehicle lanes without the required three
occupants.

There's an ongoing debate in the letters to the editor sections of many
newspapers arguing the smartness of this rule, as some people believe
hybrids don't get super mileage when driving on uncrowded HOV lanes, and
that hybrids would better help save the environment if they were stuck
running on batteries in the regular lanes.

"Saving the environment" seems a bit of a stretch to me, as in reality
the cars are just emitting less bad gases than some other cars, so I'd
say hybrids are more like "less damaging to the environment." But that
wouldn't sell as many cars, I guess.

So as I was stuck in traffic this morning, three miles behind a road
closure, in a stretch of gawkers waiting for their turn to single-file
past the opened carcass of a Nissan Z car that flipped over in the
middle of the road, I was behind a Honda Civic hybrid. After a few
minutes I noticed he was smoking one of those small cigars with a
plastic tip. Several minutes later, I saw him toss the butt out his
window onto the highway.

I was pretty sure this guy was going to toss the butt out his window.
Most of the smoking drivers I see end up tossing the cigarette butts out
the windows, but this one seemed more ironic, since he was driving a
hybrid vehicle. On one hand, he's driving a fuel-efficient marvel to
help reduce his environmental impact, but on the other hand he tosses
out the plastic-tipped cigar butt, carelessly placing a permanent
reminder of his habit out there in asphalt-covered nature.

Cigarette butts are another big peeve of mine. Particularly in heavy
traffic when the second hand smoke finds ways to invade my own personal
car's atmosphere.

Seeing this made me lean more towards the side that supports the lifting
of the "HOV exemption." Irresponsible smokers who toss out cigarette
butts don't deserve to take advantage of the HOV loophole created by the
purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

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