The HOV lane and its correct use

In many cities there are lanes in which high occupancy vehicles circulate and it is what is known as the HOV lane. Its creation seeks to reduce traffic in large cities, but certain rules must be met for its correct use and to avoid being fined.

Knowing the traffic rules and driving in special lanes can help you save a lot of time in traffic. Especially, if you meet the profile of the users for whom these alternatives have been designed. 

For this reason, we want to invite you to find out what these rules are that you should comply with in order to use the HOV-enabled lane without setbacks, such as knowing the vehicles authorized to travel in it, as well as how many people can occupy the cars; what other circumstances are necessary for its correct operation, what happens if we do not comply with these requirements, among other elements. 

What is a HOV lane?

As we said before, the acronym VAO stands for high occupancy vehicles and refers to the channel enabled so that cars and other means of transport that travel with two or more people can travel through this lane. Its use is not allowed for any vehicle, but has been intended only for cars where people are transported, so it could not be used for other purposes.

The main objective of this lane is to improve automobile traffic, because in principle the volume of vehicles in large cities would be reduced, as well as in specific points that are complicated by vehicular traffic. Its operation is efficient to rationalize the transport of people in private cars , which contributes to improving the environment by having a decrease in cars on land routes.

In the HOV lane, who can circulate? 

To answer this question we must start from the fact that the VAO was created so that at least two or more people circulate per vehicle (although there are places where they require at least three) and that is where its name comes from. Consequently, the cars that can circulate are those intended for the transport of people, so the use of this lane by heavy transport carrying goods is strictly prohibited.

Thus, the use of the HOV-enabled lane is aimed at the following vehicles:

  • cars 
  • Adaptable mixed vehicles
  • vans
  • motorcycles
  • public transport vehicles
  • Vehicles that transport merchandise whose weight does not exceed 3,500 kg

What is a mixed vehicle?

The mixed vehicle is designed mainly for the transport of goods, as well as people. In accordance with the provisions of the highway code, you can do it simultaneously or not.

It should be noted that this type of car can be transformed into an adapted mixed vehicle, with the purpose, for example, of transporting large families, or if you need a large capacity vehicle to load goods, so it could be a perfect car. for entrepreneurs and companies.

And if you wonder how many people can travel in an adaptable mixed vehicle? You should know that adaptable mixed vehicles can carry a maximum of nine people, including the driver. But, in addition, they have the particularity that the seats can be added to the vehicle with both partial and total load release.

Likewise, it is good to note that in Spain the maximum speed for an adaptable mixed vehicle on the motorway is 100 km/h; while on the roads that have 1.5 meters of hard shoulder the speed is restricted to 90 km/h and for the other conventional roads the limit is 80 km/h.

Tourism vehicle without passengers

There are some doubts about the use of this particular lane for passenger cars, such as the following: when only the driver occupies it, can a passenger car circulate in a HOV lane?

In principle, a passenger car with a single occupant could not circulate in this special lane. However, there are two exceptions in which it is allowed to do so:

  • If you have a declaration that it is a vehicle for people with physical limitations or reduced mobility. 
  • In case of having the label called “Zero emissions” issued by DGT. An important note that should be noted is that in some cases of HOV -such as the C-58 road (between Ripollet and Meridiana avenues in Barcelona)- in addition to this “Zero emissions” label, circulation is also allowed if the vehicle is identified with the “C” (if it uses Euro 6 gasoline) or “ECO” markings.

Can a passenger car with a trailer circulate in the “HOV” lane?

Unfortunately, passenger cars with trailers are excluded from the vehicles that can circulate in the HOV lane and the same rule applies to animal-drawn vehicles.

Are motorcycles allowed to travel in an HOV lane?

Yes. Motorcycles with both two and three tires are included in the vehicles allowed to circulate in this lane, therefore they can use it. 

However, it is necessary to remember that in the case of these special roads, their schedule, minimum required passengers and direction can be changed, according to the existing needs in terms of traffic and as determined by the relevant authorities at a given time.

Can mopeds use an HOV lane?

No. This is because mopeds are means of transport that do not exceed a maximum speed of 45 km/h and, in addition, the lanes designed for high-occupancy vehicles (HOV) are enabled for vehicles to travel at high speeds, therefore, they are excluded from the use of this route.

Can a HOV lane normally be used by a moped occupied by two people?

No. By virtue of the explanation given to the previous question, the moped is excluded from using the “HOV”, even if it is occupied by two people. Therefore, the moped driver cannot use it. Remember that in case of violating this rule you can be fined a minimum of 200 euros, but the traffic authorities can increase that amount if they consider that the infraction is more serious.

In short, it is very important to know what the HOV rail is for , how it is used and what its function is. Especially if you come from small cities or towns where it is not enabled. In this way, you will not get surprises or possible fines for improper use, also considering that it is a measure that helps in decongesting road traffic, especially during peak traffic hours, although it could be said that in Spain its use is very limited because there are only two: the VAO Madrid lane and the VAO Barcelona lane.

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