Monday, November 27, 2006

Carpool Lane May Cause Crashes

Who would have thought this?

It is very tragic when a good idea turns bad, but it looks like a good case for more lanes and all of them open.

One expects public leadership will follow up on this important study.

State looks at lane safety
Caltrans is trying to learn if carpooling can actually increase accidents.
By John Hill - Bee Capitol BureauPublished 12:00 am PST Monday, November 27, 2006

The thought has no doubt occurred to many a motorist breezing down the carpool lane: What would happen if one of the cars stuck in traffic in the adjacent lane tried to merge?

It turns out the same kinds of thoughts have occurred to transportation planners.

Caltrans is investigating the effect of carpool lanes on accidents, a question that took on new urgency this month when California voters approved a transportation bond expected to pay for more such lanes.

One of the very few studies on the subject, done in Texas, found that the addition of high-occupancy vehicle lanes on two freeways in Dallas increased injury accidents by about 50 percent.

The culprit: the difference in speed, up to 35 mph, between vehicles in the carpool lane and the lane next to it.

"We found that was where all the crash increase was happening," said Scott Cooner, program manager at the Texas Transportation Institute. "The speed differential, that's the factor that contributed."