• Oct 3, 2007
We've all been tempted to merge into the car pool lane when driving alone in heavy traffic, but either the shame of other motorists seeing you illegally use it or the thought of the police catching you in the act may have kept you honest. Now there's a way to legally use the lane, but it's going to cost you.
Private companies in the Washington D.C. area are considering building separate lanes for fee-paying drivers, but they'll need a method of differentiating paying solo drivers and carpoolers. One option is to install infrared scanners that can detect the number of people in a car. That means anyone thinking they could get away by putting a fake dummy in the passenger seat had better think again.

It's estimated that one out of every five cars using car pool lanes in Virginia has only the driver inside, which has this scanner idea receiving strong support from both authorities and private individuals. Privacy advocates are wary that the scanners could actually identify individuals' faces and be used by the government to monitor a person's movements, but the makers of the system are designing them so that faces are obscured.

[Source: The Wahington Post via Winding Road]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "...but the makers of the system are designing them so that faces are obscured."

      Uh, yeah. Right. Sure they are. And the x-ray body search technology used in the Tuscon airport probably blurs your privates to keep the pervs in security from getting too hot and heavy, too...right? Right?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I live in Atlanta, and the HOV lane is just as clogged as the rest of the lanes 50% of the time. Once interstate 75 and 85 merge downtown, the HOV lanes from these freeways also merge and traffic is actually WORSE for the carpoolers. It's all bullcrap and my tax dollars support it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      We don't have HOVs in Michigan but I don't see why they're a bad idea. If you want to get to work faster, then carpool. People who carpool benefit the majority by taking vehicles off the road. Shouldn't they be rewarded?
        • 7 Years Ago
        There's a difference between carpooling to work and driving down the highway with more than one person in your car. I wonder how many people using HOV lanes are actually carpooling versus going to dinner with a friend, taking the kids to gymnastics, etc. I've never spoken to ANYONE that said they now carpool because HOV lanes exist yet everyone I know has used them at one point or another simply because they happened to have someone else in the car who was going to be there anyway. There's absolutely no evidence that HOV lanes increase carpooling so if you're working from that assumption, why limit a lane's capacity when opening it up will reduce real traffic and pollution? I guess making it a toll lane is one answer to that question which is the real heart of the issue. Besides, if I could carpool and save money on gas I would. Having an HOV lane really has no impact on the situation.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here's a wacky idea: How about we use all lanes to their full potential? Carpool lanes are built using everyone's tax money yet are artifically limited to approximately half their capacity. These lanes don't promote carpooling, they only benefit those that carpool already. Well they also benefit anyone wanting to turn a carpool lane into a toll lane which is what this article is about. It's always about money. If you really want to reduce pollution and traffic then open these lanes up and use them to their full capacity.
        • 7 Years Ago
        AMEN!!!! You hit it right on the head.
        • 7 Years Ago
        RE: "Do the same percentage of people carpool in Detroit (where there aren't any carpool lanes) as carpool in L.A.?"

        Not really a valid comparison. Do a higher percentage of people carpool on a highway now that it has an HOV than did before? I doubt it, and since that's the theory being promoted I think the onus is on them to prove it. If the percentage is higher, then is the cost of building and limiting a HOV lane more or less than the cost in time, money, pollution and lost productivity caused by articially limiting that lanes capacity? I'd love to see a study but I'm pretty sure I already know what it will find.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "These lanes don't promote carpooling"

        Prove it.

        Do the same percentage of people carpool in Detroit (where there aren't any carpool lanes) as carpool in L.A.?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The pay-to-use lanes in Florida are generally called "Lexus Lanes". We can all imagine why.
      • 7 Years Ago
      1) Heated dummies.

      or

      2) Passenger's for hire like they have in SF (people hang out at the onramps and you hire them for $5-$10/trip to sit in your passenger seat and ride with you.)
      • 7 Years Ago
      I do not like this idea at all. To me it sounds like a stepping stone to make all drivers eventually pay fees to use roads, based on which roads they use and how often they use them. Not good. Law/policy makers are already talking about a system like that where people pay for traveling on the roads, some roads would have higher fees. Those who drive more would obviously pay more. The policy makers want this for two reasons, 1)more revenue 2)to tax people for the estimated amount of pollution that they contribute. I mean isn't enough that we already pay for the construction and upkeep of these roads? Now they want to charge us for using them. This new D.C. proposal is a stepping stone to that, and disguised well. (in the name of reducing congestion) Fight this to the death.
      • 7 Years Ago
      HOV lanes are horrible. Just open the lanes to everyone so 66 isn't a parking lot every day.

      For those of you not in the DC metro area 66 is a major highway that leads inside of the beltway ffrom Virginia. It is 3 lanes with one HOV lane. That doesn't sound too bad other than the fact that you can't take 66 inside of the beltway because all lanes are HOV inside the beltway. There are cops about every mile to pull people over and ticket them so you aren't getting away with it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      this will come out and two days later you'll be able to buy a dummy that plugs into your cigarette lighter.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I was thinking that, or you could apply infrared filtering window film to your windows and it would look like a DARPA challenge robot car to the cameras.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I THOUGHT WE ALREADY HAD A DUMMY IN THE CAR WITH US WHY WOULD WE WANT TO BUY ANOTHER ONE TO PLUG IN THE CIGARETT LIGHTER? SOME OF THE NEWER CARS DON'T HAVE CIGARETT LIGHTERS BUT THEY DO HAVE AN ACCESSORY RECEPTICAL. IS THAT THE SAME THING?
      • 7 Years Ago
      /me turns on his heated passenger seat. Problem solved.
      • 7 Years Ago
      As an observer from the Maryland side of the DC commute, this looks to be another misguided--and ultimately wasteful and ineffectual--attempt by the State of Virginia to fix their ongoing traffic woes. I won't go in to the whole development model they've used, but suffice it to say, it has not been 'smart growth.'

      The fact is, the DC Metro is in a three-way tie with SF & Atlanta for worst traffic in the nation, and the worst of it is on the VA side, owing mainly to having to cross the Potomac to get into DC proper. But that congestion isn't due to--nor will it be alleviated in any meaningful way by cracking down on--people illegally using HOV lanes. Diamond lanes exist in the SF Bay Area; yet traffic still sucks. Why?

      Because even with novel approaches to pooling like slugging (which is widely used here), there are simply too many people trying to get into a tiny area by car, and no amount of HOV crackdown is going to make people carpool any more than they already do.

      IMHO, what VA should do (and what Maryland has done pretty well) is beef up their abysmal VRE commuter-rail service. Granted, MD commuters don't have the bridge to contend with, but the MARC train reduces the traffic strain on our side of the bridge significantly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "A fake dummy"? So that's, what, a real person?
    • Load More Comments