Q: What are the laws about passing in the HOV lane?
A: No one asked this question, but I figured it could use some revisiting after last week’s column, which many of you weren’t happy about (I predicted this). In fact, I received more emails and calls about that one than the weed one. Impressive.
As a refresher, that column reassured a reader named Linda that you are allowed to drive the posted speed limit in the carpool lane and don’t need to move out of that lane and yield to the right if somebody behind you wants to go faster. You obviously can to be courteous, but you don’t have to.
A few readers emailed me after that column and brought up the rule that many of us know and love: Keep right except when passing. That’s an important rule of the road, and the Washington State Patrol regularly goes out and writes tickets to people who are left lane campers.
In fact, I mentioned it here recently. By early December 2017, Washington State Patrol officers had stopped 13,413 cars year-to-date for left-lane camping.
But here’s an interesting little nugget from the “Keep right except passing” law: In Section 3, the RCW mentions that this subsection does not apply to HOV lanes.
It states: “A high occupancy vehicle lane is not considered the left-hand lane of a roadway.” So if you’re driving in that lane and doing the speed limit, you’re not technically left-lane camping. You’re just doing the speed limit.
There’s another state law by addresses “Left lane restrictions” that backs that up. RCW 46.61.100(3) mandates that “no vehicle towing a trailer or no vehicle or combination over 10,000 lb. may use the left lane of limited access roadways having three or more lanes in one direction, and that a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is not considered the left hand lane of a roadway.”
Mic drop. (Just kidding! You guys hate it when I’m sarcastic.)
Anyway. There is also good news out there for folks who get frustrated when they get slowed down in the carpool lane: You won’t get cited for passing on the right if you move out of the carpool lane to pass someone, according to Sgt. James Prouty of the state patrol.
Drive safe and be patient out there, friends.