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We're coming to the end of the time when it makes sense (?) to ride around with a mannequin dressed as Gandalf. Yes, carpool lane access for some hybrid drivers in California will end this year. The deadline gives us a chance to look back and consider what the so-called "Prius perks" got us.

A few years ago, a little yellow sticker on your ride was worth about $4,000 on the used car market. These "Clean Air Vehicle" stickers allow clean cars with just one occupant into the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in California and can save some commuters up to two hours a day. Wow. If time is money, then what is the ability to speed along in the fast lane worth in 2009, especially since the state stopped handing the badges out a while ago?

The California DMV is no longer accepting applications from Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid owners for carpool stickers. The state allocated only 85,000 stickers that allow drivers of these two vehicles to cruise in the HOV or diamond lanes on California freeways. The stickers were given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Agency officials say they are over the limit by 700 applications and no longer want motorists to apply. The stickers already on vehicles can remain, even if the vehic

You all know the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane, right? The high(er) speed lane in busy city highways where people who car pool and have at least two people in the vehicle are rewarded with a dedicated lane to zip past traffic snarls. But, since another lifestyle choice HOV lanes were meant to promote is a greener environment, a lot of areas allow hybrids to cruise in the HOV lane with only one person in the car. With hybrids increasingly present on our roads, those HOV lanes are getting a li