Car pool lanes are becoming increasingly popular, and now can be found nearly all over the country, spanning thousands of miles. In these lanes (also known as HOV lanes, which stands for High Occupancy Vehicle), cars carrying multiple passengers can drive, but vehicles with only a single passenger cannot. Depending on the state or the freeway, car pool lanes require a minimum of either two or three (and sometimes even four) occupants per vehicle, though motorcycles with single occupants are permitted, and alternative fuel vehicles are allowed in certain areas.
The purpose of a car pool lane is to encourage coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to carpool in one car, instead of taking separate vehicles. The car pool lane incentives this by offering a special lane for these drivers, which usually operates at a high freeway speed, even when the rest of the freeway is stuck in stop and go traffic. And by reducing the number of vehicles that are on the freeways, traffic for other drivers is reduced, carbon emissions go down, and less damage is done to freeways (which means fewer road repair funds that take money from taxpayers).
In most states, car pool lanes are among the most important rules of the road because of how much time and money they can save drivers when properly utilized. However, car pool lane rules vary from state to state, so as with all traffic laws, drivers should familiarize themselves with the regulations when traveling to a different state.
Are there car pool lanes in Illinois?
While Illinois is home to one of the largest and busiest cities in the nation, which receives lots of traffic flowing in and out, there are currently no car pool lanes in the state. The bulk of Illinois’ freeways were built long before car pool lanes were created, and the state has deemed it a financially poor decision to add new lanes to the freeways. While proponents of car pool lanes suggest simply converting some of the existing lanes into car pool lanes, others believe that the Illinois freeways are so small, and have such a density of traffic, that this would be a poor decision.
Current projections have estimated that the addition of car pool lanes would cost a few hundred million dollars in freeway renovations and, for now, the government consensus has been that it’s not worthwhile.
Will there be car pool lanes in Illinois anytime soon?
Because of the popularity of car pool lanes, and the success that they have had in other states, there is an ongoing dialogue about adding such lanes to some of Illinois’ primary freeways, specifically the ones leading into the working areas of Chicago. Illinois has an issue with congestion and traffic, and the state is constantly trying to figure out how to make transportation easier for residents and commuters. However, at this time, it appears that the state officials believe that car pool lanes are not the answer to the freeway issues facing the greater Chicago area. They have made it clear that all options are being looked at, but car pool lanes are not being heavily considered.
Since car pool lanes are successful elsewhere and have strong public support, Illinois’ stance on them could change any year, so it’s worth keeping an eye on local news, and seeing if the state ever decides to adopt car pool lanes.
Car pool lanes save drivers lots of time and money, and help the environment and the road conditions as well. Hopefully Illinois strongly considers implementing them, or that they find an alternate solution to the freeway issues that currently impact the state.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in Illinois? and was authored by Brady Klopfer.