AirTalk for September 11, 2013

CA bill lets all drivers use select HOV lanes for a few hours a day

California Pushes For New Highway Law

David McNew/Getty Images

California Pushes For New Highway Law

A bill approved this week by California lawmakers will allow solo drivers in carpool lanes on Los Angeles freeways for a few hours a day. Approval for the bill, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature, was overwhelming.

“Carpool lanes were designed to reward those who pool their rides during the busiest rush hour,” CA Assemblymember Mike Gatto, who introduced the bill, told CBS LA. “The Northern California freeways where this has been adopted, the carpool lane is a carpool lane only from 6 to 10 a.m. in the morning commute and then again from 4 and 7 p.m. in the evening commute, but any other time in the day or night solo drivers are free to access the carpool lane.”

If Gov. Brown signs the bill, test zones will be installed along the 134 and 210 freeways. Currently, tickets  for non-carpooling drivers caught driving in HOV lanes cost over $300.

Not everyone is supportive of the idea, citing a dilution of environmental incentives. 

"I think carpool lanes can promote two things: carpooling and its an incentive for people to buy electric and plugin hybrid vehicles," said Adrian Martinez, staff attorney in the Los Angeles offices of Earthjustice, on AirTalk. "Taking away these incentives poses a problem for the environment."

The trucking industry supports the idea, despite the fact trucks won't be able to use the carpool lane. 

"Sometimes that extra lane is not used to its maximum benefit," said Michael Shaw of the California Trucking Association on AirTalk. "If we could allow additional drivers to utilize that extra lane, that would free up some space in the remaining lanes where the trucks would be driving. The  benefit for the industry is we're able to move around with less congestion."

What do you think of the proposal? Do you applaud the move? Or does it confuse drivers unnecessarily?

Guests:

Adrian Martinez, Staff Attorney in the Los Angeles offices of Earthjustice - a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to environmental issues

Michael Shaw, Vice President of External Affairs, California Trucking Association


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