By definition, high-occupancy vehicle lanes are designated for the use of cars carrying more than one person. In Los Angeles, and throughout southern California, most HOV lanes are for cars with two or more occupants. There are, however, some exceptions to these stipulations. With a special permit, some drivers of hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles are allowed to use the HOV lanes when they are alone, a concession intended to encourage the purchase of these high-mileage, low-emission vehicles.
Motorcyclists are also allowed in the HOV lanes, which would seem to be a safer driving option for these low profile vehicles in heavy traffic. In reality, however, there are serious risks to riders who avail themselves of the HOV option.
HOV Lane Risks
During periods of heavy traffic congestion, drivers in the HOV or “carpool” lanes whisk along unimpeded by prevailing conditions, but it is that very speed that can lead to tragic results. Cars entering the HOV lanes do so much more slowly than the ones already there, greatly increasing the chances of a rear-end collision during an unsafe merging maneuver.
Conversely, cars leaving the HOV lanes are traveling faster than regular traffic, creating similar risks in reverse. Statistics show that where HOV lanes are used, there are more accidents in the adjacent lanes than in the general purpose lanes farther to the right.
In some instances, buffers, barriers, or medians separate the HOV lanes from regular traffic, but there are still long stretches where nothing but special striping delineates the two spaces. Drivers disregard the marked entrance and exits and move back and forth between the lanes at random. One recent study found that more accidents occur where HOV entrance and exits are restricted, however, which is the common model throughout Southern California.
Basically the limited time frame to change lanes creates a sense of urgency that contributes to collisions. Where popular and limited entrances and exits exist, these spots see increased congestion and often necessitate rapid slowdowns and emergency braking situations. Both are prime circumstances for rear-end collisions.
Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Given the limited visibility of motorcycles compared to other vehicles on the road, motorcycle riders should be especially concerned about the risks associated with HOV lanes. If you or a loved one were injured in a collision involving an HOV lane, contact the Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers at The Nagelberg Bernard Law Group for a free consultation.
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