Car pool lanes have existed for a few decades now, and are rapidly growing in popularity. The United States now features more than 3,000 miles of these lanes, and everyday a large number of drivers rely on them, especially employees who are ride sharing to work. Car pool (or HOV, for High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are lanes specifically for vehicles carrying multiple occupants. Cars with only a single occupant are not allowed in car pool lanes. Most car pool lanes require a minimum of two occupants (including the driver), but some freeways and counties require three or four occupants. In addition to cars with the minimum number of occupants, motorcycles are also allowed in car pool lanes, even with only one occupant. Many states have also made alternative fuel vehicles (such as plug-in electric cars and gas-electric hybrids) exempt from minimum occupant limits as part of a green initiative.
Because most vehicles on the road only have one occupant, car pool lanes remain relatively empty, and are thus usually able to operate at high freeway speeds, even during bad rush hour traffic. The speed and convenience of the car pool lane acts as a reward for those who opt to carpool, and encourages other drivers and commuters to do the same. More carpooling means fewer vehicles on the road, which diminishes traffic for all, reduces harmful carbon emissions, and lowers the amount of damage that is done to freeways (and, as a result, lowers the cost of road repairs for taxpayers). Add it all up, and car pool lanes help drivers save time and money, will also benefitting the road and the environment.
Not all states have car pool lanes, but for those that do, they rules are among some of the most important traffic laws, because a car pool lane violation usually comes with a very expensive ticket. The rules for car pool lanes differ depending on which state you’re in, so always try and learn the car pool lane laws when traveling to a different state.
Are there car pool lanes in North Dakota?
Despite the rising popularity of car pool lanes, there are currently none in North Dakota. While car pool lanes help an enormous number of drivers every day, there is less use for them in a state as rural as North Dakota, where the largest city, Fargo, has less than 120,000 residents. Because North Dakota does not have many residents, or any metropolises, rush hour traffic is rarely a hindrance, and car pool lanes wouldn’t serve too much of a purpose.
In order to add car pool lanes to North Dakota, general access lanes would have to be converted to car pool lanes (which would slow down traffic for people who aren’t carpooling), or new lanes would have to be added to the freeways (which would cost tens of millions of dollars). Neither of these are particularly smart ideas for a state that doesn’t have a large commuter traffic problem.
Will there be car pool lanes in North Dakota anytime soon?
There are currently no plans to add car pool lanes to North Dakota’s freeways. The state is constantly looking for, researching, and discussing new ways to increase the efficiency of commuting, but the addition of car pool lanes is not an idea that has gained much traction at any point.
While car pool lanes would certainly benefit some North Dakota drivers, it doesn’t appear to be an important or fiscally responsible addition at this time. Be sure to keep an eye out though, in case North Dakota does add car pool lanes someday soon.
In the meantime, North Dakota commuters should learn their state’s standard driving laws, so that they are safe and responsible drivers, with our without a car pool lane.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What are the Car Pool Rules in North Dakota? and was authored by Brady Klopfer.