People have become acutely aware over the past decade that everyone needs to reduce their impact on the environment. Carpooling seems like an economical way to do this, but there is actually some contention over whether or not high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are beneficial or detrimental. In general, there are pros and cons related to HOV lanes and carpooling that every state must understand when considering whether or not to implement these types of traffic measures.
What are HOV Lanes?
HOV lanes are specific highway lanes that typically only allow vehicles with at least one passenger to travel in them. Those who drive in these lanes without any passengers face legal fines and penalties. Some states allow all traffic to take advantage of this travel privilege at certain times during the day, saving the HOV designation for hours when traffic is more congested.
Certain localities also permit drivers with hybrid vehicles to use the carpool lane without penalties. In some instances, drivers who don’t carpool may opt to purchase a pass to use the HOV lane, as well. None of these rules are imposed on a national level, so drivers usually need to learn the specific regulations for their area.
Advantages of Carpooling
Carpooling has had a huge impact on how we view our contribution to the environment and has played a part in urging us to decrease our carbon footprint. It goes without saying that this choice has proven to be an environmentally friendly way of getting numerous people from one point to another. By creating roadways that promote and allow carpooling, this practice has become part of our social norm. HOV lanes are often intended to be earth friendly by the fact that some locales allow single drivers to use the lane when driving a hybrid car.
Proponents of carpooling also state that it reduces traffic congestion by keeping high occupancy vehicles out of the “fast” lanes of interstate highways. This also benefits the drivers of these vehicles due to the fact that they don’t face the stress of driving in seriously congested traffic. In a nutshell, HOV lanes and carpooling reduces stress on both an individual and city-wide scale.
Disadvantages of Carpooling
While there are certain disadvantages that affect people on an more personal level, such as not having their own car in the case of an emergency; carpooling and HOV lanes may present far larger dangers. For instance, opponents of HOV lanes state that it would be difficult for people to enter and exit these road ways at spots predetermined by the state without cutting through large swaths of traffic.
Attempting to get across large areas of traffic isn’t the only possible danger of this system. It’s been proven that teens are more likely to be involved in accidents if they have others in the vehicle with them. Inexperienced motorist and individuals taking risks to get into the carpool lane are two very dangerous factors that this type of interstate driving creates.
Complicated Debates and Legal Issues
The aforementioned hazards are part of the reason why the possibility of HOV lanes in certain areas, such as Charleston, S.C., have become such a hot issue. Debates in Charleston have been waging for years over whether or not an HOV lane should be implemented from Charleston to Summerville. In addition, drivers in some states face tough legal issues if involved in a carpooling vehicular accident. For example, Florida drivers only have to own $20,000 worth of insurance coverage in the event they cause multiple injuries. Regrettably, when it comes to carpooling and HOV accidents, multiple injuries are very likely.
Sadly, the majority of states, from South Carolina to Oregon, only require a minimum of $50,000 in auto insurance coverage. These minimums are rarely enough to protect everyone injured in a carpool wreck. This dismal scenario can become extremely complicated for both the driver and their injured passengers. Seeking the professional advice or legal counsel of Charleston car accident attorneys would be the best course of action to resolve any local-specific ramifications of this type of accident in SC. In most cases, this is the least problematic way for carpoolers and their passengers to ensure that they are fully compensated for their injuries.
There’s no doubt that carpooling has some very distinct advantages that actually benefit the global community. However, it’s important to remember that everything in life has disadvantages. Regardless of whether it’s an increased chance of accidents or the hassle a person faces by not having their own vehicle; drawbacks do exist.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer who contributes this article to promote safe driving. Howell and Christmas is a South Carolina law firm dedicated to defending the rights of those victimized by auto accidents and personal injury throughout the state and beyond. Ladson F. Howell, Jr., Esquire and his team of Charleston car accident attorneys have over 30 years of experience defending the injured and their families in the court room.
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