(SACRAMENTO) – Today, Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) introduced Assembly Bill 162, which will allow vehicles in Riverside County to enter and exit high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) freeway lanes, commonly known as “carpool lanes,” at any point by removing existing double-yellow lines. HOV lane operation differs significantly between Northern and Southern California. In much of Northern California, HOV lanes operate using so-called “continuous access.” This means that HOV lanes, marked by broken white lines, allow vehicles an opportunity to enter and exit the lane at any point. In much of Southern California, HOV lanes use “limited access” operation, meaning they are marked by double-yellow lines, and vehicles may only enter and exit at designated points. Entering and exiting HOV lanes outside of those designated points can result in significant fines for commuters.
However, there is little evidence that use of limited access lanes is actually beneficial. A study from 2010 by the Traffic Safety Center at UC Berkeley showed that use of limited access lanes lead to negative safety outcomes—as measured by percentage of collisions, collisions per mile, and collision severity— compared to continuous access lanes. Another study by UC Riverside showed that limited access lanes lead to increased vehicle exhaust emissions compared to continuous access due to hampered traffic flow.
Since 2007, Orange County has worked to convert many of its HOV lanes to continuous access operation. Continuous access is now used on parts of State Routes 22, 55, 57, 91, and parts of Interstate 5 in Orange County. In preparing for the conversion, Orange County found that over 70% of the county’s commuters believed that continuous access HOV lanes improve road safety, and about 80% wanted to expand their use throughout the county.
AB 162 would require all carpool lanes in Riverside County to be converted to continuous access operation. “Allowing vehicles to enter and exit carpool lanes at any point would be a win-win situation for Riverside County commuters,” Assemblymember Cervantes said. “This has led to better safety for commuters, better traffic flow, and cleaner air in other parts of our state. It is time for Riverside County to also make this change through the enactment of Assembly Bill 162.”
AB 162 would make an exemption for paid toll lanes, such as the 91 Freeway Express Lanes. The bill will next be heard by a Senate policy committee. You can find more information about AB 162 here.
# # #
Sabrina Cervantes proudly represents the 60th District of the California State Assembly, which encompasses the communities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco, and a portion of the City of Riverside.