Other than New Orleans, Louisiana is a pretty quiet state, made up of mostly land and scenic, rural roads. Like in all other states though, many Louisiana citizens need to commute to work, and rely on the state’s freeways to do so. And for many drivers, the car pool lane is an integral part of their daily commute.
Car pool lanes are lanes for vehicles with multiple occupants. Cars with only a driver, and no passengers, are not allowed in the car pool lanes, and, as with all all rules of the road, drivers who do not obey this law will be subject to a hefty fine. Car pool lanes usually move at a high speed, even when the rest of the freeway is mired in traffic. This is extremely helpful to Louisianans who carpool, but it has other benefits as well. Car pool lanes encourage drivers to share vehicles, which means there are less cars on the road. This diminishes traffic for everyone, reduces carbon emissions, and lowers the damage that is done to Louisiana’s roads (and therefore the damage that is done to taxpayers’ pockets to repair the roads).
It’s important to follow all traffic laws, and car pool lanes are no exception. The rules change from state to state, but thankfully, Louisiana’s car pool lane rules are simple and straightforward.
Where are the car pool lanes?
While most states have numerous car pool lanes, Louisiana only has one set of lanes. These lanes are on the US 90 Business freeway, and are part of the Crescent City Connection bridge that connects the west bank to the east bank. The freeway has four lanes that travel in each direction, and two additional car pool lanes that travel in either direction, depending on the time of the day.
The car pool lanes are marked by signs next to and above the lanes. These signs will have a diamond symbol on them, and will note that it is a car pool or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane. There will also be a diamond symbol painted on the road to let you know when you are traveling in a car pool lane.
What are the basic car pool lane rules?
In Louisiana, you have to have a minimum of two occupants in your vehicle in order to drive in the car pool lanes, and the driver counts as one occupant. While the US 90 Business freeway car pool lanes were created to incentive carpooling and aid people going to work, there are no restrictions on who can be in your vehicle to qualify for the car pool lanes. Whether you are truly carpooling to work, or simply driving around with your kid, you are allowed to drive in the car pool lanes.
From 5:00AM until noon, the Louisiana car pool lanes travel from the west bank to the east bank. From 1:00PM until 4:00AM, they travel from the east bank to the west bank. From 4:00AM to 5:00AM, and from noon to 1:00PM, the lanes are closed. When the lanes are heading west, they are blocked off to eastward traffic, and vice versa. Attempting to board the car pool lanes in the wrong direction is highly dangerous and illegal.
What vehicles are allowed in the car pool lane?
Cars with two or more occupants are not the only vehicles that can legally drive in Louisiana’s car pool lanes. Motorcycles are also allowed to travel on these lanes, even with only one occupant. The reason for this is that motorcycles can maintain a high freeway speed, barely take up any space, and are much safer traveling in a fast lane than in slow traffic.
Since a car pool lane operates as a fast lane, only vehicles that can legally and safely travel at a high freeway speed are allowed on the lanes. For example, trucks towing large machinery, motorcycles with trailers in tow, and RVs are not allowed on the car pool lanes, even if they have two occupants. The exceptions to this rule are emergency vehicles and city buses, which are exempt from car pool lane rules.
Unlike in some states, alternative fuel vehicles (such as fully electric cars and gas-electric hybrids) are not exempt from car pool lane rules. Unless you have at least two occupants in your alternative fuel vehicle, you cannot drive in the car pool lanes. However, it is becoming increasingly popular for states to allow alternative fuel vehicles to drive in the car pool lane with only one occupant, so keep your eye open as the rules could change any year.
What are the car pool lane violation penalties?
The fee for driving in the car pool lane with only one occupant often changes, and can vary depending on the time of day and the severity of traffic. Repeat offenders will receive more expensive tickets, and can possibly have their license suspended.
Drivers who attempt to deceive police and highway patrol officers by placing a mannequin, cut out, or dummy in their passenger seat as a second occupant will be subject to hefty fees, and potentially even jail time.
Louisiana only has one set of car pool lanes, but if you use the US 90 Business freeway, you should be taking advantage of the lanes. As long as you follow all of the rules, you can start taking advantage of the car pool lanes immediately.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in Louisiana?.
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