Car pool lanes are a staple on many Alabama freeways, and greatly help a large number of drivers. In car pool lanes, vehicle carrying multiple passengers are allowed to drive, while vehicles with a single driver are not. The result is a lane for car poolers that moves much faster than the regular flow of traffic during commute times.
There are various purposes and benefits to Alabama car pool lanes. By providing faster driving conditions and less traffic to those with multiple people in their car, drivers are incentivized to carpool. This greatly helps commuters, but also lowers the numbers of vehicles on the road, which reduces traffic elsewhere, lowers environmental impact, and decreases road damage, which saves taxpayer money.
Since car pool rules vary from state to state, it’s important for Alabama drivers to know the rules of their car pool lanes. Thankfully, the rules are fairly straightforward and simple.
Where are the Car Pool Lanes?
Car pool lanes are located on the left side of freeways, directly next to the median or freeway barrier. Occasionally, a car pool lane will briefly detach from the main freeway through a stretch of road, and often freeway exits can be taken from a car pool lane.
Car pool lanes do not exist on all Alabama freeways. Some freeways have not yet implemented them due to lack of funding. However, there are car pool lanes for most of the major freeways in Alabama.
You can easily spot a car pool lane by looking for signs on the freeway, which will say mention that the lane is for car pools or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) cars only. The lanes also have large diamonds painted on them to let you know when you’re in one.
What are the Basic Car Pool Rules?
In Alabama, you only need to have two people in your vehicle to qualify for the car pool lane. While car pool lanes are specifically designed to encourage and help commuting workers carpool, you don’t need to be sharing your car with a fellow worker to be allowed in the car pool lane. Children and infants count as the second person in the car.
Most car pool lanes in Alabama are not open 24 hours a day. Usually the lanes are open only during peak commute hours, and only in one direction. For example, a freeway that goes to and from a major city will have open car pool lanes into the city during the morning rush hour, and out of the city during the evening rush hour. If the car pool lane you are using is only available during certain hours, it will say so on the freeway signs marking the car pool lane.
When a car pool lane is not available, it will usually still be open, just to all traffic. Sometimes, however, car pool lanes will be shut off when not open.
What Vehicles Are Allowed in the Car Pool Lanes?
In addition to vehicles with two or more occupants, motorcycles are also allowed to drive in car pool lanes, even with only a single occupant. This is because traffic is much safer when motorcycles are not involved in stop and go traffic.
Vehicles that are incapable of safely or legally traveling at a high speed are not allowed in the car pool lane. For instance, motorcycles or trucks with trailers, and RVs are not permitted in the car pool lane. Since these rules are not explicitly posted on the car pool signs, offenders will likely receive a warning, rather than a ticket.
While alternative fuel vehicles are allowed in car pool lanes with a single occupant in some states, they are not in Alabama. Even if a vehicle is fully electric, it must have at least two occupants to be eligible for the car pool lane in Alabama.
Busses are also allowed in car pool lanes, so if you’re considering taking a bus to avoid traffic, you will be able to.
What are the Car Pool Lane Violation Penalties?
In Alabama, there is no set penalty for a car pool lane violation; the penalty varies depending on what county you are in. In general, though, violating the car pool rules will result in a fine of a few hundred dollars, though the fee is usually posted on the car pool sign. Higher fines and possible license suspension can result for multiple offenders.
The penalties can dramatically increase for drivers who deliberately try to work around the car pool lane rules. For instance, drivers who put dummies or mannequins in the passenger seat to make it look like they have a passenger are subject to higher fines and possible jail time.
Car pool lanes are helpful to all drivers on the road, as well as to the environment and the roads. The rules are simple, so you should seek out some people to car pool with if you can. You’ll save time and money, and what’s better than that?