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HOV crackdown on Wednesday

Police in Maryland and Virginia are planning an intensive effort for Wednesday against drivers who violate the carpool lane rules.

This addresses one of the top complaints among my readers who legitimately use the high-occupancy vehicle lanes in both states. Many of them weren't so sure we had rules anymore.

While enforcement is most welcome, it's also likely to temporarily increase traffic congestion in the target zones. People slow way down when they see police activity. Some start thinking about whether they're violating any other traffic rules and get distracted. Police know how we behave and how we can make enforcement even more dangerous for them than it otherwise would be. That's one reason they're cautious about setting up such operations, even though drivers who do the right thing would love to see more of them.

So be extra careful on the highways Wednesday. During the morning and evening rush periods, Virginia law enforcement agencies will be targeting HOV violators on Interstates 66, 95, 395 and the Dulles Toll Road. Maryland State Police will be out in force on I-270 and Route 50.

They say they will be using both moving and stationary enforcement methods but will adjust tactics to ease the congestion that's bound to result.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 4, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Driving , Safety , highways  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, HOV lanes  
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Comments

Good! Everyday, I see people violating HOV restrictions. The police need to step up efforts to crack down on HOV violators. I love to see the violators get busted. Those who break the rules should pay the price. The laws should be changed to up the financial penalty for those caught.

Posted by: jam6 | May 4, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Good! I have often remarked to friends and coworkers or posted to my facebook status that it's amazing how much better the traffic flow is on I-66 when the police are out enforcing the HOV restrictions. I disagree that the police being there will increase traffic congestion. The tactics they use usually involve stopping the violaters right at the on-ramps, and I have not observed any congrestion caused by HOV enforement in the past. I expect smooth sailing on I-66 if the police are out enforcing the HOV restrictions.

Posted by: blunoz | May 5, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I've been hearing about this crackdown for days.....I'm sure the violators have also.

Seems like a VERY stupid way to crack down, telling the violators not to use HOV today.

Posted by: netsurf12 | May 5, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock:
netsurf12, I always hear about the three-E formula for improving traffic and safety: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. But one traffic expert told me this trinity is better: Enforcement, Enforcement and Publicity about Enforcement.

Part of what police have been doing for the past few days is about the later. The goal of this campaign isn't so much about issuing tickets. It's to get violators out of the HOV lanes because they're worried they might get caught.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | May 5, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The localities must need tax revenue! Although they could raise more revenue by not advertising the crackdowns. With the increase in gang activities and rampant drug activities in schools I am so happy this is what Fairfax's finest are going to spend their time on: trying to keep people off roads they paid to build but are forbidden to use. Everyone cannot carpool because of thier jobs, but their tax money was used to build these roads. If you want to ease traffic, open the lanes to everyone!

Posted by: rveatch | May 5, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@blunoz

Afternoon HOV enforcement on the Washington Blvd-to-I-395 ramp always makes the congestion (which is very bad in this area anyway) much worse. Moreover, the congestion continues after 6pm. I usually use this ramp between 6:05 and 6:15, and a row of stopped cars on the shoulder causes a major problem.

@Dr. Gridlock
"Some start thinking about whether they're violating any other traffic rules and get distracted. "

A note on the side: let's be honest about this. They KNOW they are violating other rules, and they slow down because the rule they are violating is the speed limit.

And the real reason is that speed limits on major highways in the region are set unrealistically low. 45 mph on Rt 110, 55/65mph on I-395 regular/HOV lanes - this just does not make sense. If we were in Europe, I bet the limits on these kinds of highways would be around 50/75/80 mph (or more), respectively. And drivers see it and most of them travel 10-15 above unless there is congestion. It is actually unsafe to drive within posted limits because merging or changing lanes becomes dangerous due to speed differences.

Posted by: miskidomleka | May 5, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Dr G--

What exactly is the rule in MD concerning single-occupant police vehicles in HOV lanes? Do they enjoy a blanket exception or are they allowed only if enforcing HOV? (Obviously, I'm not talking about emergency (lights and siren) responses.) If it is the latter (which is my understanding), then this is abused on a daily basis on both I-270 and US-50.

I would maintain that the following entities are not interested in enforcing HOV on I-270: US Park Police, Uniformed Secret Service, Federal Protective Service, Metropolitan (DC) Police, Metro Transit Police, Frederick County Sheriff, Greenbelt Police, Prince Georges County Police & Sheriff, Fairfax County Police & Sheriff, Rockville & Gaitherburg Police (outside of Rockville & Gaithersburg), Montgomery County Sheriff, and numerous unmarked police vehicles with VA, DC, Maryland, and Federal Government license tags.

I'll throw in Montgomery County Police, too, because the majority I see are out of uniform, apparently not on duty, and commuting (a large number get off at Germantown). I'm not saying MC Police don't enforce HOV, only that I haven't seen it (I have seen three single-occupant vehicles pass me followed by a marked MCPD car with no enforcement). I only see Maryland State Police enforcing HOV.

Oh yeah, and you can add Montgomery County Fire and Rescue vehicles, other Montgomery County Government vehicles, and Maryland Government vehicle to the list of frequent violators.

Posted by: ceebee2 | May 5, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I should have also said that a similar situation existed (and I'm sure still does) on US-50 when I used to frequent that route.

As I understand it, VA grants a blanket exception which seems absurd to me (along with the hybrid exception).

Posted by: ceebee2 | May 5, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I should have also said that a similar situation existed (and I'm sure still does) on US-50 when I used to frequent that route.

As I understand it, VA grants a blanket exception which seems absurd to me (along with the hybrid exception).

Posted by: ceebee2 | May 5, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post...don't know what happened.

Posted by: ceebee2 | May 5, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Don't kid yourself...This is all for revenue. I was legally in the HOV lane this morning on I270 driving along and a State Police patrol car was driving slowly along the left shoulder. There was a gap between me and the car in front of me. State Trooper M. Farfan driving the patrol car did not signal that he was coming out, and drited over the yellow line in to my right of way. Officer Farfan then quickly flashed his emergency ligts to enter my lane of traffic after drifting into my path. about a minute later he turned on his emergency lights and went back on the shoulder and let me pass and then got behind me and pulled me over. The reason: failure to display front tag. Now i ask you, what does this have to do with HOV? I have driven this car for 9 + years without a front tag and have never been stopped for it. I have a clean driving record and he issued me a warning.

Posted by: booginc | May 5, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

HOV violations will go right back to the way they were when this temporary crackdown is over. all this does is increase traffic (bc drivers in this area are innately stupid and feel they need to rubberneck everything) and temporarily fill the cities' coffers. if they really wanted to clean up HOV, they'd find a way to automate ticket handouts to violators.

Posted by: frigate32 | May 5, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Dr. G:
Longtime print-now-internet reader ...

I agree with ceebee2 and his comments -- change the MD venue to Virginia for my posting!

I think it's great that the Police are enforcing HOV Violators. But what about the phalanx of "government vehicles" who seemingly get a free ride in HOV? So many times I see marked, unmarked, etc. vehicles using the public HOV lanes -- just following traffic in the HOV and not "on-duty". What is the policy there? Why do they get a Free Pass And Go? Talk about nepotism ... it really gets me that there is a HUGE double-standard and "unwritten-and-wink-the-eye" code. How can VA have a "blanket exception"? And who is to say that those persons in the HOV lanes are indeed those with the "blanket exceptions". NOT FAIR. Hey -- leave earlier like the rest of us ...

Posted by: danr237 | May 5, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@booginc ....

who cares if your stop was unrelated to the HOV crackdown? who cares how long you've been driving with illegal plates (no front plate)?

You were in violation and you got caught, and you caught a break at that (a warning).

Stop whining.

Posted by: fendertweed | May 5, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

My friend was pulled over for being in the HOV lane this morning and unfortunatley he forgot his wallet. When he could not show his license or registration, the officer ordered him to exit the vehicle and took his keys and THREATENED TO ARREST HIM!! Failure to show documents is NOT an arrestable offense! So why the terrorism? He was able to answer every question about the vehicle and registration, where he lived etc... and the officer was still instigating. Granted he was in the HOV lane and will gladly pay the ticket.. however the citation did not indicate the amount of the fine. So he is going to send in the ticket with a check for $0.00. Usually the citation will show the fine so the offender can send payment and get it over with instead of going to court and wasting a day to fight it. Great work MD State Police!! lol

Posted by: booginc | May 5, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Fendertweed, yes i caught a break because i have a clean record. If this is branded as an HOV crackdown, why dont they concentrate on the HOV violators? Why dont you read my post about my freind? Threatened to be arrested for a NON-ARRESTABLE OFFENSE??

Posted by: booginc | May 5, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

danr237 and ceebee2:
government owned vehicles and hybrid vehicles are exempt from HOV restrictions (government vehicles must be heading to or from place of work)

Posted by: spaganya | May 5, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@booginc--

Are you saying that because there is an "HOV enforcement" that they should ignore all other violations?

How about providing a cite for your assertion that it is not an "arrestable offense" for someone who is driving a vehicle to not produce a driver's license? I'm not saying you're wrong--just that it's new info to me and I'm curious.

Posted by: ceebee2 | May 5, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"How about providing a cite for your assertion that it is not an "arrestable offense" for someone who is driving a vehicle to not produce a driver's license?"

in virginia you MUST have a form of identification - it is an arrestable offense. just like you MUST subject to a breathalizer test - or go to jail. part of having a DL.

Posted by: spaganya | May 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

@ceebee2
No they should not ignore them, but if they are targeting HOV violators,then why pull someone over who had 2 people in the car just for a front tag violation? The point of the enforcement was to show they are pulling people over who have 1 person in the vehicle riding in the HOV lane. Like I said,i have been driving my car for 9+ years in MD without the front tag, and i have been pulled over several times and given speeding tickets.. however i was never warned about not having the front tag displayed. Regarding arrestable offense, my friend has a valid MD driver's license and he answered all questions about the registration and his residence. Usually they will ask the person to come down to the station within a certain amount of time or issue a fine. The officer could go back to his car and look it up and verify it right there on the spot on his computer with information my freind provides. Even after he did that, he told my friend that some of the answers he gave were wrong(not so) and continued to threaten to take him to jail. But then did not even issue him a ticket for failure to show license, just HOV violation. He chose to terrorize and threaten my friend which is unacceptable. Just because he violated HOV does not give the police the right to terrorize and threaten him. Dont you agree? And I know, a few bad officers should not spoil it for all.

Posted by: booginc | May 5, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Why you dont talk to the police
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

if you cant get to the link, google "why you dont talk to the police"

James Duane explains why innocent people should never talk to the police.

Posted by: booginc | May 5, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

The story continues....As I driving to work today I had another encounter with MD State Police. I have been very busy and was not able to get the front tag mounted to my bumper yet. At this point I would like to reiterate that this was all for revenue. I was again pulled over this morning driving South on I270 for failure to display front tag. I nicely explained to the officer that I had been given a warning just 5 days ago and I intend on getting it fixed by the upcoming weekend. That was not good enough, he issued me a ticket for $60 and said I might be able to get it reduced if I fix the violation and go to court to explain to the judge. Like I am going to take a day off work to do that! In my opinion, he was waiting for me, probably a buddy of Officer Farfan, who knew i would be driving down the HOV lane and probably did not have time to mount my tag yet. See you in the morning MD STATE POLICE!! Try to pull me over again for this and I will have my lawyer sue you for harrasment.

Posted by: booginc | May 10, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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