One in Eight Drivers Uses Express Lanes Illegally

Express lanes for carpoolers are carrying about twice the number of passengers as the other freeway lanes across Utah. Traffic tends to move between 5 and 6 mph faster and the lanes have much fewer accidents.

However, not all is good news. Roughly, 1 out of every 8 vehicles that travel in the freeway express lanes is doing it illegally.

That news is according to the annual report that reports on the high occupancy express lanes that was handed over to Utah legislators on Wednesday by the state’s Transportation Department.

Across the state, there are 62 miles of express lanes along Interstate 15 through the Wasatch Front and approximately 10 more miles worth in David County. That is the nation’s longest run of express lanes, said Carlos Braceras the Executive Director of the UDOT.

Braceras said the express vehicle lanes move close to twice the number of people as do the lanes that are general purpose. In the express lanes, approximately 3,600 people per hour are using them, while the general purpose lanes have 1,900 per hour. Of course, one obvious reason is that express carpool lanes have vehicles carrying multiple passengers.

Braceras said that surveys have shown that 12% of the cars using the carpool lanes are violators. That figure is down 1% from the same survey a year ago, after the Utah Highway Patrol conducted some enforcement actions.

Carpools represent nearly 63% of the vehicles in the different lanes. Braceras added that the higher miles per hour rate in the carpool lane has help to encourage more carpooling.

Nearly another 19% of cars use the express lanes legally with single passengers since they pay a toll to use then. Another 4% are using the lanes for free, due to being clean-fuel vehicles. In addition, another 2% are motorcycles or buses that are also allowed to use them without paying a toll.

In all, express lanes handle about 10.3% of the entire traffic, but represent just 6% of the accidents. The safety record that is lower is due to cars moving to and from express lanes less frequently than in other lanes and have no traffic on their left side.