Q Do you know why the CHP doesn't seem to monitor the carpool lanes on Highway 87? I've been making that commute for years and I've never seen a violator cited, and let me tell you, I've seen a LOT of violators. They often outnumber those abiding by the laws and it tends to slow the flow of traffic, especially if they feel the need to cut over suddenly at the sight of a Crown Victoria.
A Highway 87 is a tough place to patrol because the center median is so narrow and there are few safe locations for the CHP to stop and monitor traffic. A few years ago I made this commute for a week and estimated that 20 percent of the drivers were carpool cheats. State officials estimate it's closer to 7 percent, which is still a lot.
And I agree with Alaina. The cheating here is some of the worst in the Bay Area. Here is one thing the CHP sometimes does:
Q I'd like to share my experience about the morning commute on Highway 87 to 101 and wonder if something can be adjusted to improve this. The CHP sets up occasionally at the metering lights from 87 onto 101 and cites people cheating in the carpool lane. Unfortunately, a consequence of this is that cheaters will not see them until they are already on the overpass and traffic is bumper-to-bumper in adjacent lanes. To avoid being cited they will dangerously stop in the carpool lane and quickly zip into very small gaps in traffic in the adjacent lane, or simply force their way in.
I greatly appreciate the CHP running these operations, and I suspect they are aware of this situation. Are there any plans to combat this? Set up a sting earlier on the 87 rather than at the metering lights, possibly?
A I'm afraid not. D.J.-the-CHP-Man says: "It's just not practicable or safe to try and set up before the overpass. Our officers are aware of this problem and try to make sure they get those people when they get to the bottom of the ramp. The officers can then also cite them for a couple other violations -- unsafe lane change, impeding traffic. I could only imagine what a citation with all three violations would cost a person. I'm sure it would be a deterrent."
Q Carpool lane cheating is RAMPANT! I observe this most frequently on Highway 85 between Cupertino and the southern interchange with 101. It seems that there is little to no enforcement during commute times when traffic is heavy. With few CHP officers seen along this stretch, more and more solo drivers feel confident they won't get caught in the HOV lane -- just as two readers on your Facebook page boasted. Are there any plans to crack down on cheaters? It defeats the purpose of having HOV lanes if they're full of solo drivers who think paying 1-2 tickets per year is no big deal.
A And ...
Q We've seen increasing carpool violations on Interstate 280 -- until one day when some CHP motorcycle cops were out in force. Were they busy! In our short 8 miles on the freeway we saw three solo drivers getting their comeuppance.
As we approached each of those, a violator dangerously slammed on their brakes to get back into the normal lane. We always keep enough room to stop safely, but it was a miracle the drivers in front of us didn't rear-end each of them.
Maybe if they kept up this enforcement the violations would go down, the dangerous solo drivers wouldn't be slamming on the brakes to avoid getting caught, and the state's coffers would rightfully be a bit less empty.
A Carpool cheaters, fines run around $450-plus.
Q Curious. I went to the town of Rescue the other day. You take Highway 50 east and exit just past El Dorado Hills. I found it rather amazing the Highway 50 eastbound diamond lane was closed to single-occupant cars until 10 a.m. I went through about 9:30 a.m. and there wasn't much traffic. What's up with that?
Meanwhile, we have diamond lanes around here that should be closed to single-occupant cars until 10 a.m. but have a 9 a.m. cutoff.
A Carpool hours on Highway 50 run from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., which is consistent with most carpool lanes in the Sacramento area. In time, carpool hours in the Bay Area will run most of the day as more diamond lanes are converted into express or toll lanes.