HOT vs. HOV Lane Debate Not Over As Ontario Test Begins - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

HOT vs. HOV Lane Debate Not Over As Ontario Test Begins


The implementation of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in Ontario is poised to begin as of Oct. 1. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Queen Elizabeth Way have been designated as HOT lanes under a pilot project scheduled to run from two to four years. Opening HOV lanes restricted to vehicles with two or more occupants to vehicles whose single occupant is willing to pay $180 for a three-month permit has not been met with universal approval.

Managing traffic congestion – HOV lanes

The introduction of HOV lanes on some of the most travelled and congested roads in Ontario mirrors action taken in cities throughout North America struggling to manage traffic congestion during peak commuting hours of the day. The concept behind them is to use designated lanes of travel to move more people in fewer vehicles.

HOV lanes in Ontario are open to the following vehicles as long as they have at least one passenger in addition to the driver:

  • Cars and other passenger vehicles
  • Vans and light trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Commercial vehicles measuring less than 6.5 meters in length and with a gross weight not exceeding 4,500 kg

Other vehicles authorized to use HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants in them include:

  • Emergency vehicles
  • Buses
  • Taxis and airport limousines

Vehicles with green license plates issued by Ontario are also eligible to use HOV lanes no matter how many occupants they carry. Green plates are issued to hybrid electric vehicles and others that are considered to be environmentally friendly.

HOV lanes are indicated by painted buffer zones separating them from other traffic lanes. Entry and exit points are also indicated with painted pavement markings. Signage is also posted to assist motorist in distinguishing HOV lanes and their entry and exit points.

Critics of HOV lanes in the U.S. where they have been in place for at least 30 years in some places claim they are underused by carpoolers and take away a travel lane that could be utilized to relieve congestion on the non-HOV lanes. Safety concerns have been voiced about enforcement of HOV rules by police impeding the flow of traffic in the HOV lane when they pull a vehicle over for a violation.

HOV lanes become HOT

Other than changes to the signage, motorists will not notice much of a difference when the conversion of HOV lanes into HOT lanes goes into effect on Oct. 1. Vehicles eligible to use the HOV lanes will continue to be allowed to use the HOT lanes without having to pay for a permit. Permits will be required for vehicles carrying only a driver.

The number of permits being offered during each three-month period of the pilot project is 1,000, so Ontario officials have opted to use a random drawing to select up to 1,000 people from the applications received during February, May, August and November of each year. Winners will have the right to purchase a permit and renew it twice without having to go back into the drawing.

HOT lanes might work

A study reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed a drop in highway accidents by more than 5 percent in one U.S. city after conversion HOV lanes were open to use by single-occupancy vehicles as HOT lanes. Still, critics of the Ontario program point to the fact the provincial government has not committed to the technology, including transponders attached to vehicles and electronic systems to allow officials to monitor traffic and increase the cost of lane usage in real time, needed to make HOT lanes work as intended.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer when HOT lane accidents happen

If you are injured in a car accident in a HOT lane or on any roadway in Ontario, contact the trusted personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond. We have years of experience handling all types of car accidents and other personal injury claims. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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