Car pool lanes are fairly common in the United States, and Georgia is one of the many states that is taking full advantage of them. Roughly 90 miles of heavily traveled freeways in Georgia have car pool lanes, which makes traveling much easier, quicker, and nicer for tens of thousands of Georgia drivers every single day.
Car pool lanes are lanes in which only cars with multiple passengers can drive. Vehicles containing only the driver are not allowed in car pool lanes, and must stay on the standard all-access freeway lanes. The addition of a lane only for carpoolers means that many people can circumvent rush hour traffic, as the car pool lane usually travels at a standard fast freeway speed, even during peak traffic hours. This not only saves many drivers large amounts of time and money, but it also incentivizes carpooling, which helps reduce the number of vehicles that are on the road. Less cars on the road means less traffic for everyone (especially since traffic has a domino effect), and it also means fewer carbon emissions. Last but certainly not least, decreasing the amount of cars on the road limits the amount of damage that is done to Georgia’s freeways, which helps lower the amount of freeway construction, and taxpayer dollars. In short, car pool lanes are some of the most important aspects of driving on Georgia roads.
Like all traffic laws, it’s imperative that you follow the rules when using the car pool lanes. The rules are simple and straightforward, so you can get straight to saving time and money, as well as the pain of sitting in traffic for long hours.
Where are the car pool lanes?
Georgia’s 90 miles of car pool lanes span three different freeways: I-20, I-85, and I-95. The car pool lanes are always located on the far left side of the freeway, adjacent to either the barrier or the oncoming traffic. In general, the car pool lanes will stay connected to the all-access lanes, though when there is construction on the freeway they will sometimes detach from the main lanes for a short period of time. Some freeway exits can be made directly from the car pool lane, but most of the time drivers will need to merge to the standard far right lane in order to exit the freeway.
The car pool lanes are signaled by road signs that are either on the left side of the freeway, or directly above the car pool lanes. These signs will either have a diamond symbol, or will mention that the lane is a car pool or an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane. The diamond symbol will also be painted on the lane to let you know when you are driving in a car pool zone.
What are the basic car pool lane rules?
In Georgia, you have to have two occupants in your vehicle in order to drive in the car pool lane. However, the two occupants do not need to be coworkers, or even carpoolers. Even if the second occupant in your vehicle is an infant, you are still allowed to be in the car pool lane.
Unlike in some states, car pool lanes in Georgia are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because of this, there are many times where the car pool lane is not moving any faster than the rest of the lanes on the freeway. Even when this is the case, you cannot be in the car pool lane unless you have two occupants.
You can only enter or exit a car pool lane at select areas. Most of the time, the lane will be separated from the rest of the lanes by solid double lines. When this is the case, you cannot merge into or merge out of the car pool lane. Every few miles the solid lines will be replaced by checkered lines, at which point you can enter or exit the lane. By controlling when vehicles can enter and exit, the flow of the car pool lane is maintained, and the vehicles in it can drive at a high freeway speed.
What vehicles are allowed in the car pool lanes?
While the general rule of the car pool lanes is that you have to have at least two occupants in your vehicle, there are a few exceptions. Motorcycles are allowed in the car pool lane, even with only one occupant. Since motorcycles are small and can easily maintain a high freeway speed, they don’t slow down the car pool lane, and it’s much safer that they drive there than in bumper to bumper traffic.
To help incentivize environmentally friendly vehicles and reduced carbon emissions, AFV (Alternative Fuel Vehicles) and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) vehicles are also allowed in the car pool lane, even with only a single occupant. However, if you have an AFV or CNG vehicle, don’t simply head to the car pool lane and think you can get away with it. You must first acquire an alternative fuel license plate from the Georgia Department of Revenue, so that law enforcement knows that your vehicle is allowed in the car pool lane.
Some vehicles are prohibited from the car pool lane, even if they have two or more occupants. These vehicles are ones such as motorcycles with trailers, and trucks towing large items, which cannot legally or safely operate at a high freeway speed. However, if you are pulled over for driving in the car pool lane in one of these vehicles, you will likely just be issued a warning, since the rule is not explicitly stated on the car pool lane signs.
All emergency vehicles and city buses are exempt from the car pool lane rules.
What are the car pool lane violation penalties?
Car pool lane violations can vary depending on what freeway and county you are driving in. The base ticket for driving in the car pool lane with a single occupant ranges from $75 to $150, though it can be more if you are a repeat offender. Drivers who repeatedly violate the car pool lane rules can eventually have their license suspended.
If you cross solid double lines to enter or exit the car pool lane, you will be subject to a standard lane violation ticket. If you attempt to deceive officers by placing a mannequin, dummy, or cut out in your passenger seat as your second occupant, you will likely face a much larger fine, and potentially even jail time.
In Georgia, you can be ticketed for car pool lane violations by the police, the highway patrol, or officers from the Department of Public Safety.
The car pool lane is a great way to save time and money, and should always be used when you have the chance. As long as you obey the rules and procedures, you can great straight to taking advantage of one of Georgia’s greatest freeway features.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in Georgia? and was authored by Brady Klopfer.