Traffic Control for High Occupancy Vehicle Facilities in Virginia

Report No: 98-R25

Published in 1998

About the report:

High occupancy vehicle (HOV) facilities are an important tool in relieving the congestion that continues to build on many urban roadways. By moving more people in fewer vehicles, the existing infrastructure can be used more efficiently. Operating HOV lanes is not a simple matter however. HOV lanes can be controversial, and the task of making them comprehensible and easy to use is not insignificant. Recognizing the importance of signing and pavement marking strategies on the success of HOV implementation, the Traffic Engineering Division of the Virginia Department of Transportation requested a study of Virginia's HOV facility traffic control strategies. The study includes a literature review of signing and pavement marking for special use lanes, a survey of several states with active HOV programs, and a review of the HOV facilities in Virginia. The literature suggests that the majority of motorist do understand the meaning of the term HOV as well as the use of the diamond symbol that indicates an HOV lane. Motorist confusion occurs when HOV regulations are not consistent across a region, however. Varying the hours of operation or minimum vehicle occupancy increases the signing requirements and places a greater burden on motorists. HOV signs must be clear and state relevant restrictions on use. In addition, other efforts should be undertaken to educate motorists about HOV benefits and requirements for use. Enforcement is critical to the success of HOV programs and should be a coordinated effort between the Department of Transportation and the enforcement agencies.

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.


  • Catherine C. McGhee, P.E.

Last updated: December 15, 2023

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