Four Bills Aim to Clear Unauthorized Cars Out of HOV and Bus-Only Lanes

Video courtesy Rooted in Rights

Update: The two automated camera enforcement bills are scheduled for hearings next week. Senate Bill 5789 will be heard Monday at 3:30 pm. House Bill 1793 will be heard Thursday, February 14 at 3:30 pm.

Four bills were introduced last week — two pairs of identical “companion” bills – to give WSDOT and local governments more tools to get cars out of lanes they aren’t supposed to be in. Senate Bill 5695 had its hearing (TVW recording) in the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1710, by Rep. Jake Fey (D – Tacoma) and SB 5695, by Sen. Marko Liias (D – Lynnwood), would raise the fine for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane violations. The current fine is $136. Under the bill, the fine for a first infraction would be $242. The second violation would cost $499. Additional infractions would cost $755 per occurrence. The two bills were requested by WSDOT.

At the hearing for SB 5695, Sen. Liias gave anecdotal testimony, from the experience of a friend who has a baby in the back seat, that lane violators are probably being caught roughly once per hundred times they wrongfully enter HOV lanes.

Travis Snell, Government Relations Liaison for WSDOT testified:

The current penalty of $136 for an HOV [lane] violation provides little deterrent to violators. In some places as many as 50% of HOV [lane] users do not meet minimum occupancy requirements. HOV lanes carry more people than adjacent general-purpose lanes due to higher occupancy of each vehicle.

However, only 1 of the 10 monitored HOV peak-direction corridors met the state performance standard in 2017, down from 2 corridors previously. The degree of compliance with the performance standard worsened for all 10 monitored locations in 2017 compared to 2016.


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