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CHP to Crack Down on Carpool Lane Violators

CHP Launches Maximum Enforcement Period on Highway 99

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) are joining forces to crack down on single drivers violating the high-occupancy lane (HOV) on Highway 99.

From September 19, 2022, to October 15, 2022, the CHP will patrol a 12-mile stretch of Highway 99 in both directions between the US Highway 50 junction and Elk Grove Boulevard. The four-week carpool lane enforcement period will be during weekday commute hours from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Why Maximum Enforcement is Necessary

According to Caltrans, 35 percent of traffic violations on southbound Highway 99 and 47 percent on northbound Highway 99 were HOV lane violations.

Illegal use of carpool lanes during peak commuter periods can increase congestion and slow traffic speeds. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires 45 miles per hour or higher speeds during peak commute hours. If traffic does not reach those speeds, the HOV lanes will be degraded, leading Caltrans to change the carpool lane’s eligibility requirements.

A Caltrans representative said this maximum enforcement period serves as a deterrent so that single drivers will be aware and not drive in the carpool lanes during commuter times.

This enforcement period is a combined effort between the CHP and Caltrans to reduce the number of single drivers in the HOV lanes.

Who Can Use the HOV Lanes?

Carpool lanes are for vehicles or buses with two or more people and motorcycles; an occupant is anyone who uses a seat belt. Some electric, hybrid, and clean-air cars are allowed on the HOV lanes, despite the number of people in the car.

Studies have shown that HOV lanes not only promote carpooling but also improve the flow of traffic. HOV lanes also are an incentive for motorists to buy electric vehicles.

The HOV lanes in Northern California only operate during peak driving hours from 6 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 7 pm. All vehicles can use the lanes during off hours. Single drivers who violate the carpool lane can be fined $490, but it could be higher for repeat offenders.

The Dangers of Driving in the Carpool Lanes

While HOV lanes promote traffic congestion, there are other disadvantages. You face the same dangers as motorists in different lanes, including reckless drivers, drunk drivers, and distracted drivers. However, in HOV lanes, those driving in the carpool lanes have a higher risk of getting into an accident with serious injuries.

Since HOV lanes are not as congested, drivers tend to speed. Traffic in a carpool lane can travel about 35 percent faster than in other lanes, making it more difficult for drivers to react in time to avoid a crash. It is also more complicated for the faster traffic in HOV lanes to merge into a slower lane, which increases the accident rate by 150 percent. Research shows that rear-end and sideswipe collisions account for over 90 percent of crashes in HOV lanes.

Common Hazards of Driving in HOV Lanes

Below are some of the dangers associated with driving in carpool lanes:

  • Vehicles in HOV lanes travel at a constant rate, and drivers entering carpool lanes at a slower pace can lead to rear-end crashes.
  • Motorists who exit carpool lanes sometimes drive at excessive speed, which can cause devastating collisions.
  • On some roadways, the HOV lanes are separated by a median. But some sections have no physical barrier to standard lanes, allowing drivers to change lanes freely and sometimes recklessly.

HOV Lane Traffic Accidents

A lack of maintenance or poor design in a carpool lane can contribute to a traffic accident. You are entitled to pursue compensation for your damages if you were injured in a collision in the HOV lane due to negligence. However, filing an injury claim against a government entity has a much shorter timeline, and the paperwork can be complicated. Getting help from an accident lawyer experienced in handling government claims is essential to ensure all documentation is completed and filed before time runs out.

Watch YouTube Video: What Are the Rules for Driving in the HOV Lane? The video below from News 12 explains the rules of driving in the carpool lane.

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