A Common Sense Solution for Midday and Late-Night Traffic

It has happened to anyone who lives in Southern California. A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty − a situation that seems to defy common sense. There is no reason why drivers should have to continue to endure this. For this reason I have introduced a bill that would give drivers access to carpool lanes when they are being under-utilized.

Assembly Bill 210 calls for the creation of a pilot project, administered by California Dept. of Transportation, that would allow single-occupancy vehicles to access High Occupancy (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes) along certain portions of the 210 freeway and the 134 freeway during non-peak hours.

After all, carpool lanes are intended to increase the capacities of our freeways, reward those who carpool during rush hour, and protect the surrounding environment from harmful exhaust. Unfortunately, these goals often go unmet and, at times, the problem worsens when a major fraction of the highway is unnecessarily restricted to motorists.

The proposed measure would give the highway system more flexibility in accommodating commuters, with significant benefits to surrounding communities. A single accident would be less likely to close an entire freeway and disruption of traffic patterns would be minimized. Those who work in the film and entertainment industries when leaving would find the 134 less congested during their late night drive home after a long day at the studio.

Neighborhoods lining the 134 and 210, particularly in Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena, would see a decrease in surrounding noise and smog pollution.

I am also told this proposal would save lives. A significant number of accidents are caused by people adjacent to the carpool lanes being unexpectedly hit by a motorist who darts across the double-yellow carpool striping.  Changing this to a lane with ingress and egress will prevent such accidents.

Many northern California freeways already have this flexibility, and it works very well. It only makes sense to bring these solutions to our Southern California freeways, especially when so many carpool lanes are not used to full capacity during off-peak hours.



Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Consumer Protection and Privacy Committee, and the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Follow him on Twitter @MikeGatto or visit