Residents in Virginia who have ever driven in the carpool lane on Interstate 66, also called the high occupancy vehicle lane, know that there are places where drivers are supposed to pay a fee for using this lane. A recent report by ARLnow indicates that state officials believe that many drivers who should be paying the toll are not doing so. In addition, there is some question as to whether or not every vehicle in the HOV lane should really be there based on the number of people in the vehicle.
At a recent meeting for the Arlington Transportation Commission, the Virginia Department of Transportation discussed how it is currently investigating new ways of tracking proper use of HOV lanes as well as payment of tolls. Currently, drivers are mostly left to an honor system as enforcement relies solely on four state patrol staff per day in a manual head-counting exercise. Certainly, it can be all but impossible to accurately identify the number of people in every vehicle over the course of an entire day, let alone be able to stop a vehicle that is in violation on a crowded freeway.
In addition, there are many times when the officers put on the freeway to watch for HOV violations get sidetracked with other problems on the freeway such as accidents and other emergencies or enforcement events.
The new systems that are being considered may have HOV compliance monitored through electronic means. If such a system comes to be, drivers will need to be aware of how it works to avoid unfair fine assessment.