Investigation of Enforcement Techniques and Technologies to Support High-Occupancy Vehicle and High-Occupancy Toll Operations

Report No: 10-CR1

Published in 2009

About the report:

High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) facilities in Virginia have proven to be effective in enhancing mobility.  This success, along with the availability of electronic toll collection technology, has led the Commonwealth to expand the HOV system and pursue the implementation of high-occupancy toll (HOT) facilities in the state.  Although these facilities hold promise to help address the growing demand for travel in Virginia, a significant challenge in achieving their potential lies in the ability to enforce occupancy requirements in a manner that has minimal impact on the operation of the facilities.  This has proven to be a challenge for HOV facilities and will be an even more complex undertaking on HOT facilities. 

The purpose of this study was to examine occupancy enforcement on HOV and HOT facilities.  This examination focused on three areas: assessing the impact of existing manual violation enforcement techniques on HOV violation rates; exploring the feasibility of using new technologies/techniques to improve the effectiveness of violation enforcement; and assessing the impact of violation enforcement techniques on the operations of HOV/HOT lanes. 

The results of the research indicate that current saturation enforcement techniques are not effective in reducing violation rates.  However, no proven technologies are currently available that offer the potential to automate enforcement of occupancy restrictions.  Finally, a simulation methodology was developed that may be used to estimate the operations’ impacts on current and future enforcement techniques and technologies. 

The report offers a number of recommendations to address the challenges of HOV/HOT occupancy enforcement in Virginia: (1) the current practice of sporadic saturation enforcement should be discontinued in exchange for regular, continuous enforcement; (2) the HOV Enforcement Task Force should look critically at current HOV policies to identify and recommend specific changes to reduce the likelihood of citations being dismissed in adjudication; and (3) the methodology developed in this research should be used to evaluate new enforcement techniques and technologies before they are implemented. 

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Brian L. Smith, Ph.D., Donghyung Yook

Last updated: November 21, 2023

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