Car pool lanes have been around for a pretty long time, and in the last 20 years or so they have really taken off and increased in popularity. A large number of states now have car pool lanes, which cover more than 3,000 miles across the country. Every day, millions of Americans count on their local freeways to help them commute to and from work, and a large number of these commuters are able to rely on the car pool lanes to bypass much of the freeway’s traffic.
Car pool (or HOV, for High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are freeway lanes that are reserved for vehicles with multiple occupants. On most freeways, you cannot drive in the car pool lane unless you have at least two occupants, including the driver, in your car. On some car pool lanes, however, the minimum number of occupants required can be three or four. In addition to cars with the minimum number of occupants, motorcycles are also allowed in car pool lanes, regardless of how many occupants they have.
In many states, alternative fuel vehicles (such as plug-in electric cars and gas-electric hybrids) are also permitted in car pool lanes with only one occupant, as long as they have a license plate or decal confirming that their car is a green vehicle. A few states even combine their car pool lanes with express lanes, which single drivers can pay a fee in order to drive in the car pool lane.
Most cars on the freeway only have one occupant (especially during rush hour), which allows the car pool lane to operate with very little congestion. This means that vehicles in the car pool lane are usually able to drive at a high freeway speed, even if the other lanes are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Having a quick and efficient lane is a reward to all the drivers who opt to ride share on their way to work, and it encourages other people to carpool as well. This ultimately results in fewer cars on the freeways, which means less traffic for everyone, reduced carbon emissions, and less road damage (which lowers the road repair costs for taxpayers). When you add it all up, car pool lanes are some of the most important rules on the road, because they offer benefits to so many drivers.
For the states that have car pool lanes, the rules accompanying them are vital traffic laws, because failure to properly use the lanes can result in a very hefty fine. Car pool lanes vary in each state, so always familiarize yourself with the local rules when you are traveling.
Are there car pool lanes in Wyoming?
Despite the popularity of car pool lanes, there are currently none in Wyoming. There are two primary reasons for the state’s lack of car pool lanes. The first reason is that Wyoming is a relatively small state, with no major metropolises. There are no cities of more than 70,000 residents in Wyoming, meaning that there are no areas of extreme rush hour traffic. Car pool lanes are usually placed on freeways that lead into major cities, because those are the freeways that have severe congestion in the mornings and afternoons.
The second reason is because the major freeways in Wyoming were built before the large rise in car pool lane popularity. Since the old freeways do not accommodate car pool lanes, the state would have to spend a very large amount of money paving new lanes if they wanted to implement car pool lanes.
Will there be car pool lanes in Wyoming anytime soon?
Because Wyoming does not have extreme traffic problems, it seems unlikely that the state will add car pool lanes anytime soon. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is constantly researching the best ways to improve travel within the state, and car pool lanes have been studied and considered. However, given their cost, it would not be a smart use of state funds. However, the next time a major Wyoming freeway needs to undergo repair and renovations, there is a chance that the state may jump on the opportunity and build car pool lanes.
Many drivers every day benefit from the time and money saved by car pool lanes, but right now they wouldn’t have a very big impact in Wyoming. If drivers find traffic getting considerably worse within the state, that may one day change.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in Wyoming? and was authored by Brady Klopfer.