While many people think of Kansas as being a state that’s primarily rural, there are lots of cities and freeways, and lots of rules and regulations that go with them. Kansas drivers heavily rely on the state’s many freeways to get them to and from work, and many of these drivers frequently use the car pool lanes to help minimize the amount of time they spend on the road.
Car pool lanes are lanes that are designated for vehicles with multiple occupants. Cars with only a driver, and no passengers, are not allowed to operate in car pool lanes, or else they will receive an expensive ticket. Car pool lanes have fewer drivers than all-access lanes, and as a result, they are usually able to maintain a high freeway speed even when the rest of the freeway is stuck in slow traffic. This not only aids many Kansas drivers who are commuting on a daily basis, but incentivizes carpooling, which helps get cars off the road. Less cars on the road means reduced traffic for everyone, fewer carbon emissions, and less damage to Kansas’s freeways (and, therefore, less road repair money being taken from taxpayers).
Those who use the car pool lanes can save a lot of time and money on their commute (or other freeway travels), so long as they always obey the traffic rules. Thankfully, Kansas’s car pool lane rules are easy to learn and follow.
Where are the car pool lanes?
Car pool lanes are not as plentiful in Kansas as they are in many other states. However, they still exist on many of the state’s largest freeways. The car pool lanes are always the furthest left lanes on the freeway, adjacent to either the barrier or the oncoming traffic. The car pool lanes always stay attached to the standard freeway lanes. While there are a few freeway exits that connect to the car pool lane, you will usually have to merge to the far right lane in order to get off the freeway.
All of the car pool lanes in Kansas are marked by signs either to the left of the freeway, or above the lane. These signs will state that it is a car pool or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane, or will have a symbol of a diamond. The lane will also have road paint in the shape of a diamond.
What are the basic car pool lane rules?
In order to drive in a Kansas car pool lane, you have to have at least two occupants in your vehicle, including the driver. Despite the fact that car pool lanes were designed to propel employees to carpool to work, there are no restrictions on who qualifies as a second occupant for the car pool lane. Even if you are driving with your child, you can legally be in the car pool lane.
Almost all of the car pool lanes in Kansas are only open during peak traffic hours, in either the morning, the afternoon, or both (and only on weekdays). Most of the car pool lanes that have these selective hours are shoulders when not being used for carpooling, but a few of them simply become standard all-access lanes. A few of the car pool lanes are open around the clock, and can only be used for carpooling. Be sure to read the car pool lane signs, as they will tell you when the lane is open, and if it is available for use when not operating as a car pool lane.
There are areas of some car pool lanes where it is illegal to enter or exit. This is done to maintain a high speed of traffic, so that the lane continues to flow, and doesn’t get bogged down by drivers constantly merging into or out of it. When the car pool lane is separated from the rest of the lanes by solid double lines, you cannot enter or exit. When it is separated by checkered lines, you are free to merge in and out as you please.
What vehicles are allowed in the car pool lane?
Cars with multiple occupants are not the only vehicles that are allowed in the car pool lane. Motorcycles can also legally drive in the car pool lane, even with only one occupant. This is because motorcycles do not slow down the flow of the car pool lane (since they are small and can easily travel at high speeds), and are safer in the car pool lane than in bumper to bumper traffic.
However, not all cars with two or more occupants are allowed in the car pool lane. Since the car pool lane operates as the fast lane, only vehicles that can maintain a high freeway pace are allowed in it. Trucks towing large items, motorcycles with trailers, and RVs are examples of vehicles that are not permitted to travel in the car pool lane. However, if you are pulled over for driving one of these automobiles in the car pool lane, you will likely receive a warning rather than a ticket, since the rule is not explicitly stated.
Kansas does not allow alternative fuel vehicles to travel in the car pool lane with a single occupant. However, this practice is becoming very popular in other states as a way to incentivize the purchase of fully electric and hybrid electric vehicles. So if you own an alternative fuel vehicle, keep your eye open, as Kansas may change the car pool lane rules in the near future.
Emergency vehicles and city buses are exempt from all car pool lane rules and regulations.
What are the car pool lane violation penalties?
A car pool lane violation ticket varies depending on which part of the state you are in. On many of Kansas’s freeways, the fee for driving in the car pool lane with a single occupant starts at $400. However, there are a number of car pool lanes that have smaller fines as well. Repeat offenders will likely receive higher fines, and can possibly have their license suspended.
A ticket for illegally merging into or out of the car pool lane by crossing the solid double lines will result is a standard lane violation fee. Any driver who tries to trick officers by placing a cut out, mannequin, or dummy in their passenger seat as a second “occupant” will be subject to an expensive ticket, and potentially even jail time.
You can save time and money by carpooling, and if you use the car pool lane you can also save the hassle of getting stuck in traffic. Be sure to always follow the car pool lane rules, and you can start getting the most out of Kansas’s freeways.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in Kansas? and was authored by Brady Klopfer.