Some Rules of the Road in California

By Lawrence A. Ajalat

The following are some rules related to carpool lanes and freeway driving in general.

Using Carpool Lanes. In order to use the carpool lane, there must be two (or three, if posted) separate people in the car – being pregnant (even with twins!) will not qualify a person to drive in the car pool lane (absent other passengers).

Solo motorcyclists can use the carpool lane unless otherwise posted, but must abide by the entering and exiting rules (see below).

A car or truck towing a trailer is subject to a 55 MPH speed limit and therefore cannot use the carpool lane, regardless of the number of occupants.

The law allowing single-occupant hybrid cars with a yellow “Clean Air” decal issued by the DMV to use the carpool lane expired on June 30, 2011. However, if your car has a white decal, you are allowed to drive by yourself in the carpool lane unless prohibited by local signs. Finally, beginning January 2012, a new group of low-emission vehicles can apply to DMV for green clean-air decals, which will allow solo drivers in the carpool lanes.

Entering and Exiting Carpool Lanes. There seems to be a common misconception that it is legal to cross over the single or double lines in order to enter or exit a carpool lane. However, you must enter or exit a carpool lane only in designated areas or where there is a single dashed line (regardless of color). It is illegal to enter or exit a carpool lane if you have to pass through a solid line, regardless of whether the line is yellow, double yellow, white, or both.

Motorcyclists Can “Split” Lanes. While frightening to many car drivers (usually in heavy traffic), it is in fact legal for motorcycle riders to “split” lanes and ride between other vehicles, as long as they do so in a safe and prudent manner.

Transporting Firearms. If you need to transport a firearm in your vehicle, it must be unloaded and stored in a locked container (or truck if you have no lock-able container). This is true even if you have a concealed weapon permit from a different state, as California does not recognize out-of-state permits.

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