How does the 91 Freeway Express Lanes catch cheaters?
Q. Honk: On the 91 Express Lanes there are three-plus lanes that allow vehicles with three or more people to use the tollway for free, or at a significantly discounted toll. How do officials enforce those lanes? Do they have cameras or sensors complex enough to figure out how many people are in a vehicle, or is it more of an on-your-honor system?
– Peter Finch, Huntington Beach
A. It’s kinda like driving in a carpool lane solo when you aren’t supposed to.
We should just do the right thing – and, if not, cops and others are out there trying to nab you.
As you know, Peter, at certain points on the 91 Express Lanes those vehicles carrying at least three people must get in the proper lane so they don’t get charged, or to get a discount.
An extra layer of California Highway Patrol officers, hired by the Orange and Riverside county transportation agencies that own different portions of the tollway, are on the lookout for cheaters in addition to watching out for other infractions.
Staffers posted on the route also look out for those trying to cheat by driving in the three-plus lanes and tip off the CHP.
“In July, there were more than 440,000 drivers who took advantage of the carpool discount on the (Orange County) portion of the 91 Express Lanes, out of 1.5 million total trips,” Megan Abba, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, told Honk in an email.
The 91 Express Lanes may someday up its game.
“OCTA is also monitoring technology that may be able to detect vehicle occupancy through cameras or sensors in the future,” she added.
Q. Honk: I have noticed lately numerous people pulling trailers in the fast lane (lane No. 1) or the No. 2 lane on freeways. Has the California law changed? I thought it was only legal to tow trailers in the two right-most lanes. Are these people just lucky there are no California Highway Patrol officers around? Thank you for taking the time to answer this. Maybe some of the trailer haulers will learn the rules of the road.
– Roland Wood, Fountain Valley
A. No, the law hasn’t changed.
On freeways with four lanes going in the same direction, cars and trucks towing anything must be in the right two lanes, indeed.
When there are three lanes going the same way, those drivers must be in the far-right lane, although they can slide into the middle lane to pass.
When towing motorists are approaching, say, a freeway interchange, they are allowed to begin the transition early – so you might see them in a lane they otherwise aren’t supposed to be in.
For any vehicle towing a trailer, the speed limit is 55 mph and not the typical 65.
It is certainly annoying for others to suffer from this wrong-lane violation.
When Honk cruises into the offices of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, one of the newspapers he serves, the fine fellow endures the constant violations by truckers hauling trailers on the southbound 710 Freeway.
CHP officers have discretion on when to cite violators. In fairness, they are also charged with going after more troublesome offenses, such as drunks, speeders and distracted drivers.
Honkin’ fact: Each year, 100 or so mountain lions get struck by vehicles in California and die (Source: Tiffany Yap, a scientist and wildlife-corridor advocate for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity).
To ask Honk questions, reach him at email@example.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk.