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PROVO — If you’ve ever been suspicious that people driving by themselves in I-15’s high-occupancy vehicles lane are breaking the rules, you might be right.
A new study from Brigham Young University found that up to 25 percent of drivers using carpool lanes on I-15 are violating the requirements. Researchers said they counted car occupants and watched to determine whether individual drivers were using the lane properly for the project.
“The sections of I-15 with the most HOV violators are the sections where there is the most congestion,” said study lead author Grant Schultz, professor of civil engineering at BYU, in a statement. “With education and enforcement, those areas can improve.”
The carpool lanes can be used by any vehicle that has two or more occupants. Individual drivers are allowed to use the HOV lanes if they have a clean vehicle decal or an express pass, which grants access for a fee. To determine whether drivers had clean vehicle decals or were using express passes, researchers drove slowly in the third lane.
Two segments of I-15 stood out in the study as being the locations with the most single-occupant violators in the morning, according to the study. Thirty-three percent of individual drivers between 14600 South and 7200 South broke the rules, while 25 percent of individual drivers broke the rules for the northbound stretch between Lehi Main Street and 14600 South.
During the afternoon rush hour, the largest number of offenders was found in the southbound lanes from 14600 South to 7200 South and 2300 North to 7200 South. The percent of single-occupant offenders for both stretches was 21 percent, according to the study.
BYU researchers worked with the Utah Department of Transportation for the study in an effort to find a way to relieve congestion and increase speeds in the HOV lane. Using data from the study, the BYU team concluded the speed could be improved by increasing law enforcement and education campaigns, raising the roll rates for drivers using the express passes and increasing the HOV minimum limit from two occupants to three.
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