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PROVO — Utah's HOV Express Lanes have been around for several years now, but there is one rule with the lane drivers still have a hard time figuring out: What direction should you move to clear the path for emergency vehicles?
During a ride-along with Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden, we found most drivers are doing it wrong, but signs being installed by the Utah Department of Transportation aim to fix that.
As we traveled along the HOV lanes in Utah County Tuesday, we spotted plenty of signs warning drivers not to cross the double white lines. Similar signs warned drivers who do will face a fine.
As Roden moved along the HOV lane responding to a call, lights flashing and siren blaring, a majority of the vehicles in front of him yielded to the right.
"People get confused," Roden said. "We're trying to get them to move over but not knowing what they're going to do because they're trying to go through that whole scenario in their head of what to do."
Roden said what almost always happens is drivers slow down in the HOV lane, and those who do move out of the lane go to the left emergency lane, which makes it difficult and dangerous for those drivers to get back into traffic.
"They are not going to get into trouble if they do move over across the double white lines because they do have an emergency vehicle behind them that is telling them to move to the right," Roden said. "So even during a traffic stop, if someone is getting pulled over in the HOV lane, they are fine to cross the double white lines and pull over to the right."
The new signs UDOT workers are posting in the HOV lane leave no question for drivers. "Legal to exit HOV lane when emergency vehicle present," the signs say.
Out of the six cars who were in front of us Roden's patrol car Tuesday, only one driver crossed the double white lines and moved over to the right as they should.
"Hopefully, it will let them know, 'Hey, the officer's behind me with their lights on. I can go across the double white lines and not get in trouble," Roden said.
Drivers should also be aware that crossing the double white lines to yield to emergency vehicles isn't just for when they are behind them: You should also move over to the right when emergency vehicles are pulled over to the left of the HOV lane.