Q&A - HOV Lane Speed Limits

speed demonWhat is the legally acceptable speed for HOV lanes?

What is the recommended speed for HOV lanes?

Many/ most drivers consider HOV to mean High Speed Lane.

As a 65 years old driver with a relatively clean record of 49 years and who drives confidently at the speed limit in the right lane (being slower) we find we are tailgated when we do make use of the HOV lane. We've noticed that people in BC drive in general 10-20 km/h over the speed limit.

It sucks for those of us who are uncomfortable with speed.



I agree, I am also one of those drivers who qualifies to use the HOV lane but chooses to drive in the right hand lane instead. I really don't care for keeping to the speed limit yet finding an inconsiderate driver mere feet behind me wanting to get by. At least when I use the right lane, they can.

I imagine that your speed questions are facetious in nature, but your observation is quite true.


Q. What is the legally acceptable speed for HOV lanes?

A. Not higher than what is posted on a speed limit sign, or in the absence of a sign 50km/h for municipal streets and 80km/h for rural highways.

Q. What is the recommended speed for HOV lanes?

A. Recommended speed is the one which is appropriate for the road conditions depending on the weather, visibility and traffic.

/Many/ most drivers consider HOV to mean High Speed Lane.

If it is the left most lane, its the effects of the tradition: drivers expect left lanes to move faster than the curb lane.

/we find we are tailgated

Increase following distance from 2 seconds to include the portion of the distance that is not afforded by the following vehicle - if they are kissing your bumper - increase following distance to 4 Mississippi-es.

/people in BC drive in general 10-20 km/h over the speed limit

People in the world, for the most part (85% of them) drive in accordance to conditions: width of the road, curvature, sights lines and pavement quality. Speed limiting signs in BC are generally under-posted from the observable 85th percentile by 10-20km/h.

/It sucks for those of us who are uncomfortable with speed.

I cannot see a conflict there: curb lane is OK to travel at 60km/h on any highway. If traffic speeds seems faster than comfortable for you here in BC, it maybe your vehicle: shaking steering wheel at speeds over 80km/h? Check tire-balancing. Car seems to wander when going straight? Check wheel alignment. Car seems eager to pull into channels and grooves? Check tie rods and ball joints.

Don't like what other vehicles around you are doing? Try DILLIGAF (standard driver philosophy in Vancouver/Seattle/SF/LA it seems): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a6EOyaMdqY

HOV lane

HOV lanes are somewhat at odds with the "Keep Right Except to Pass" rule which has been in the BC MVA since at least 1950.  Yes, it was re-written recently by Todd Stone who added a lot of wording .... but never mentioned "Courtesy".  Then that's another issue .... If we could legislate "Courtesy", a lot of the MVA would be superflous.

I'm not sure that "most" drivers drive 10 to 20 over the posted speeds .... at least not for long.  Radar and laser guns are going to get you .... or those insidious "ghost" cars.  But +5 seems to be common.  Of course, inclement conditions would reduce the "safe" speed as would your personal condition and a variety of other factors.  So, if you don't care to at least keep up with the traffic flow, move out of the HOV to a right hand lane. But please do it where permitted!

It's amazing how many drivers are oblivious to the fact that it's illegal to cross a solid white line (Except in an emergency).  Wait for the broken lines to enter or exit an HOV lane. (I wish the police would enforce this!)

Many drivers may not be aware of why motorcycles are permitted to use the HOV lanes.  It has nothing to do with "occupancy" as with cars.  One of the greatest dangers to a motorcycle rider is the driver who fails to check the mirrors before changing lanes or, if they do check, nothing short of 8 feet of chrome gets their attention.  Motorcycles are pretty manoeuvrable but a slight bump can put you down, into a barrier or into oncoming traffic pretty quick.  By permitting them into the HOV lanes was intended to give them protection from the blind lane jumpers ... at least along the solid line stretches.

HOV is Not the Left Most Lane

The speed limit for the HOV is the same than the regular travel lanes. For commuting on highway 1 everyday, I certainly agree with your statements that most drivers are in the 110-120 range and believe the HOV is a passing lane. According to the revised legislation, the HOV is NOT the leftmost lane, therefore not a passing lane or anything like that. You can drive at 100km/h legally without any issues which you wouldn't be able to do in the leftmost lane.

For what it's worth, I find that most impatient driver in the HOV lanes, will tailgate for a short period of time, make their lane change over the solid white line, pass the vehicle by speeding and re-enter the HOV on a solid white line. Should police see this, the driver will more likely be receiving a handful of tickets for all of those offences.

Section 151 explains in detail the leftmost lane.

Serious Public Education Needed

I was recently subjected to two incidents of road rage/aggressive driving while in the HOV lane on Highway 1 in the Deer Lake/Willilngdon area of Burnaby - drivers seem to have the INCORRECT assumption that the HOV lane is a high speed lane, and those travelling the speed limit, or less than the car behind them would like to travel, should move over for them to pass.

This is not the case.

The passing lane is the lane on the right of the HOV lane. If someone in the HOV lane wishes to pass, they must move into it, pass safely, and come back to the HOV lane (assuming they are actually multi-passenger vehicles - often people are simply abusing the HOV lane as a passing lane).

On Saturday, in the POURING rain, I had drivers tailgate me, flash lights, finally pass me on the right, and swerve in directly in front of me, forcing me to brake hard to avoid a collision.

WHAT???? clearly there needs to be some serious public education about HOV lanes, passing, and avoiding road rage when people are driving safely, legally, and appropriately for road conditions.

Beware of Solid Lines

One can only legally move into or out of an HOV lane over a broken line. Crossing a single solid white line here is an offence.

Yes, radio campaigns

And in this case I believe “think of the children” is actually the correct approach. HOV lanes are for vehicles that have multiple occupants, and very often those would be children. HOV lane is a reasonable choice for most qualified vehicles for long distance trips. Such trips must be taken with due care to be completed.

I also think that lots of vehicles, discounting the unqualified ones, take HOV lanes just to catch a few exits and that's not the correct approach. Vehicles that use HOV lanes for passing, especially those that completely ignore the thick solid lines separating the lanes are creating additional dangers on the roads.

I don’t think most people realize just how little they gain by taking some of the risks they do, especially for short term trips. Instead of the menacing “RCMP are watching you” radio ads, the same time could be more effectively spent informing people of the expectation.

It doesn’t matter if drivers agree of disagree with something, provided it is repeated several times it does form mental barriers in people’s heads, so I think it would work if people hear their radios tell them:

“HOV lanes are for long to moderate family trips”

“Every vehicle in the HOV lane can have several children in them”

“HOV lanes are not much faster for short distance trips - consider your route before entering HOV only to leave it 3 exits down”

“HOV white lines are there for a purpose - entering and exiting HOV lanes should only be done where allowed - since this is what other drivers expect”


Put the HOV Lane on the Right

What doesn't help the uneducated/agressive driver is that the HOV is on the left on highway 1. There is very little problems on the 99 where the HOV is on the right

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