Special Highway Areas: Driving Through Toll Booths, Carpool & HOV LanesUpdated May 27, 2020
While using highways, you may encounter areas which require different driving behaviors, or where a different set of rules apply. Understanding how areas like HOV lanes and toll booths must be used will help you to stay out of danger and avoid getting a ticket.
HOV & carpool lanes
High occupancy vehicle or HOV lanes are present on many stretches of freeway. Using HOV lanes incorrectly is an offense for which you can be fined. These special lanes are designed to ease congestion, by encouraging travelers to carpool or use buses. They can usually be identified by diamond-shaped road markings and road signs.
Motorists may only use an HOV lane if they meet the minimum occupancy requirement, as stated on the HOV sign. Usually, this is two or three occupants, including the person driving.
If you choose to use an HOV lane, keep in mind that it may only be entered and exited at designated points which are marked by a broken white line. Dipping in and out of an HOV lane is not permitted, if it involves crossing double white lines.
HOV lane requirements may only apply within certain hours. If this is the case, the hours during which the rules apply will be included on the road sign marking the lane. If no hours are listed, you can assume that minimum occupancy requirements must be met at all times.
Drivers must pay a toll to use some roads and bridges. If this is the case, toll booths will be set up across the road. On highways, there are likely to be multiple toll booth lanes to accommodate the high volume of traffic. Booths may be manned, unmanned, restricted to a certain method of payment or reserved for certain types of vehicle. This information will be clearly indicated by large signs above each lane, allowing drivers to merge into an appropriate position in advance.
Watch out for toll booth signs while traveling on a highway and be prepared to reduce your speed as you approach. Green or red lights may be active above toll both lanes, indicating which booths are open. Be aware that some drivers may attempt to cross traffic at the last moment while approaching toll booths, if they have so far failed to get into the correct lane.
Use caution when merging back into the flow of highway traffic beyond the toll booth. Accelerate smoothly and check around your vehicle for a safe space to merge.
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