State highways throughout the country, even here in Middle Tennessee, are notorious for being crowded and congested, particularly during peak hours.
Measures such as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes were put in place to help reduce traffic, and even reduce emissions.
In the state of Tennessee, many know the requirement to drive in these lanes is that a car must have at least two people inside.
“That lane always moves faster. I Iike it,” said motorist Stanton Norfleet.
Some, however, have come to realize that there are two exceptions: motorcycles and hybrid vehicles.
New signage along Interstate 40 notes the exceptions, raising questions from those who noticed.
The signs were added during the recently completed $55.5 million widening project near Mount Juliet, just passed Highway 109.
Angela Gardner appreciates how low emission vehicles are allowed to travel in the HOV lane, especially since her husband has been driving one for years. She said his commute time from Mount Juliet to his workplace in downtown Nashville is cut in half each day.
“They are still a little higher priced than you want them to be right now, but getting those little benefits make the difference,” said Angela Gardner.
However, other motorists do not understand why these “green cars” are the exception to the rule.
“If it’s there for two people to drive in one car, yes, that’s okay, but if there’s one person, no, I don’t think that should make a difference,” said Pat Patterson.
While the signs are new, the rule is not. Low emission vehicles have been allowed to travel in HOV lanes courtesy of a federal law that was put into place in 2005 to help lower emissions.
“The new signs were posted to put the state in line with new federal guidelines. You will likely see the same signs go up throughout Middle Tennessee, said Heather Jensen with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Those who travel in low emission vehicles can drive with ease and help law enforcement by signing up for an HOV Smart Pass, which can be found on TDOT’s Web site.
The decal shows everyone your vehicle qualifies to drive in the designated HOV lane.