While Delaware roads are best known for their rural, backroad, scenic routes, the majority of Delaware drivers have to travel on the state’s large freeways on a day-to-day basis. Many of these freeways have carpool lanes, which vehicles with multiple occupants can drive in, but cars with only a single occupant cannot drive in.
Car pool lanes encourage drivers to share their vehicles with other commuters and coworkers; as a result, the total number of vehicles on the road diminishes. This helps the overall traffic on the roads, and also diminishes carbon emissions and road damage (which helps save the taxpayers money). Car pool lanes usually allow drivers to travel at standard high freeway speeds, even during rush hour traffic, which makes them greatly beneficial to all who use them, presuming they are following basic traffic laws.
Drivers who utilize the car pool lane can save time and money, and can avoid the inconvenience and hassle of busy bumper to bumper traffic. Car pool lanes vary from state to state, so as with all other laws, it’s important for Delaware drivers to familiarize themselves with the car pool rules. Thankfully, the rules and regulations are simple and straightforward.
Where are the car pool lanes?
Car pool lanes exist on most of the major freeways in Delaware. The lanes are always placed on the far left side of the freeway, adjacent to the oncoming traffic or the freeway barriers. Car pool lanes occasionally will detach from the main freeway, but will meet up with the all-access lanes again quickly. Some exits can be made from the car pool lane, while other exits require drivers to merge to the furthermost right lane in order to leave the freeway.
Car pool lanes are signaled by signs on the side of the freeway. The signs will sometimes say car pool, and will other times say HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle). Some signs will simply have a symbol of a diamond, which is the signal for car pool lanes. The roads are also painted with the diamond symbol to let you know when you’re driving in a car pool lane.
What are the basic car pool lane rules?
In Delaware, the car pool lane rules change depending on the county that you’re in, and the freeway that you’re driving on. Most car pool lanes require a minimum of two occupants, but some of the lanes in Delaware mandate a minimum of three occupants. And even though car pool lanes were designed to encourage carpooling for people going to work, any person qualifies for the minimum occupancy. Whether your passenger is a coworker or your child, you can drive in the car pool lane as long as you have the minimum number of occupants.
Most car pool lanes in Delaware are functional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, on a few busy freeways, the car pool lanes are only open during peak commuting rush hours, on weekdays. During the rest of the week, these lanes are all-access lanes, and can be used by anyone.
On many stretches of car pool lanes in Delaware, entering and exiting the lane is prohibited. These areas are marked by solid white lines separating the car pool lane from the adjacent all-access lanes. When the line becomes fragmented, merging in and out of the lane is allowed. This merging restriction is created to help the car pool lane maintain flow, so that it runs at a high speed even when the all-access lanes are stuck in slow traffic.
Because the rules can vary depending on what freeway you’re on, always check the car pool lane signs, which will let you know what all of the rules and requirements are.
What vehicles are allowed in the car pool lanes?
While the primary vehicles that are allowed in the car pool lanes are standard passenger cars with at least two or three occupants, motorcycles with single occupants are also allowed. Because motorcycles are safest when driving at normal speeds, rather than traffic speeds, and take up little space, it is safest for all drivers if they operate in the car pool lane.
Even if you have the minimum required number of occupants in your car, you may not be allowed to drive in the car pool lane. Any vehicle that cannot safely or legally drive at a high freeway speed is prohibited from the car pool lane. Examples of these vehicles include semis, RVs, trucks towing large items, and motorcycles with trailers. The exceptions to this rule are city buses, emergency vehicles, and tow trucks that are en route to a car. These vehicles are exempt from car pool rules.
While some states allow alternative fuel vehicles (such as gas-electric hybrids or fully electric cars) to operate in the car pool lane with a single occupant, Delaware does not. However, more states are adopting this rule every year, so if you drive an alternative fuel vehicle keep your eye open, as the legislature in Delaware may change someday soon.
What are the car pool lane violation penalties?
The penalties for violating the Delaware car pool lane rules depends on what freeway you’re on. In general, if you are caught driving in the car pool lane with only yourself, the fine will be a few hundred dollars, though the exact amount can fluctuate substantially. If you are a repeat offender, you are subject to a higher fine and a possible license suspension.
If you illegally merge into or out of the car pool lane, you will receive the same ticket that you would get for a standard illegal lane change.
Some people attempt to trick officers by placing a cut out, dummy, or mannequin in the passenger seat, to make it look like they have an extra occupant. If you are caught doing this, you will likely receive a higher fine, and possibly face a jail sentence.
Carpooling in Delaware is a great way to save time and money, while also being a more responsible and energy efficient driver. As long as you obey the basic rules, you can get straight to utilizing all that the car pool lane has to offer.