A federal law requires traffic in car pool lanes to move at least 45 mph,
and California has until February to speed things up.
Several years ago, the state began allowing some single-rider vehicles
in the car pool lanes, to incentive the purchase of lower-emission cars. The
problem is that the extra traffic has overwhelmed about 750 miles of High Occupancy
Traffic lanes. According to Caltrans, about 750 miles of carpool lanes
are so clogged with vehicles that they do not allow traffic to move fast
enough. The Federal Highway Administration says the state must either
increase tolls on HOT lanes, increase the occupancy requirement, build
more lanes, or exclude clean-air vehicles with solo drivers.
Slow traffic in California HOT lanes is a perfect example of two common
driving issues in The Golden State.
Today's vehicles and roads are much more advanced than they were twenty
or thirty years ago, but for the most part, speed limits have not increased
at all. The net result has been an increase in speeding tickets and an
increase in speed variance, which is the difference between the posted
speed limit and natural speed limit - how fast the road is designed to
carry traffic and how fast the traffic can safely proceed.
There is evidence that a
higher speed limit in Inyo County would reduce the variance and thereby reduce traffic accidents.
Using traffic laws to promote social change is a
bad idea. A better plan may be to offer small tax breaks, like lower vehicle registration
costs in Bishop.