You might be wondering, Why are Motorcycles even allowed in HOV lanes? They don’t even carry a passenger most of the time.
Why are they given that privilege?
What the Deal? Why Are Motorcycles Allowed In Hov Lanes?
Motorcycles can ride on HOV lanes even without a passenger due to a rider’s vulnerability when stuck in heavy traffic. The goal behind such a concession is to increase the safety of motorcyclists.
By allowing riders to use the HOV and use it as a get-away safe heaven, here is what it prevents.
- Reduce the chance of a rear-end collision
- Diminish the probability of Road rage against a more exposed motorcycle rider.
- Preventing motorcycles riders to suffer from heatstrokes while stuck in traffic on a hot day.
Lowering The Chances Of a Rear-End Collision
Motorcycle riders are particularly exposed when they are the last vehicle in a line of stopped motorists.
If the vehicle coming behind the rider fails to stop in time, the results can be catastrophic.
We are in the age of distracted driving, and the issue is getting out of hand.
Being rear-ended is a real problem for motorcycle riders.
Unlike cars, we motorcyclists don’t have headrests to catch our heads and prevent our necks from snapping from the impact force.
Even at low speed, rear-ending is problematic for motorcycle riders.
A minor fender bender resulting in a few scuff marks might not be a big deal for a car-to-car incident.
For a motorcycle, a light tap on the back from a car is plenty to make the rider fall by losing the balance of his bike.
When a rider falls and puts his hand to the ground to catch himself, broken wrists are common occurrences.
The same applies at crawling traffic speeds when a car changes lanes and fails to see that a bike is in the path.
It often results in the bike tipping over and the rider on the floor.
Lower limbs injuries are also frequent when a motorcycle drops and crushes a rider’s leg.
Allowing motorcycle riders to use the HOV lanes lower the chances of rear-end incidents for bikers stuck in traffic.
Long story short, the HOV serves as a preventive safeguard for bikers.
Diminishing Motorcycle Riders Vulnerability To Road Rage
Frustration will chip aways our reserves of patience, and road rage episodes are frequent in traffic jams.
You get your usual honking, flipping the bird between peoples with the occasional juicy exchange of words.
But now and then, the gloves come off in that kind of altercation.
Raging motorists might see red beyond reason.
In their fury, a car driver might use their vehicle to put in harm’s way the other motorist they are raging against.
This kind of jousting is bad enough when it is a car vs. car…
But If the other individual involved in the skirmish is a motorcycle rider, that is not a fair fight.
If a car driver loses it, the motorcyclist will be poorly equipped to defend itself from a car attack.
The best a motorcycles rider can do in these extreme cases is disengage and distance himself from the raging driver.
That is one of the reasons motorcyclists get permission to ride in the HOV lanes.
It creates a distance from the start between riders and most drivers.
The purpose is to separate bikers from the bulk of a traffic jam where motorcyclists are vulnerable to irrational road rages.
Lower Motorcyclists Exposure to Heatstrokes
Being stuck in a traffic jam can be exhausting for anybody.
But motorcycles rider get it extra rough on a hot day while stuck in heavy traffic congestion.
- Unlike cars that got roofs to provide shade, sun exposure is an issue for motorcyclists.
- Protective equipment such as a motorcycle jacket is like wearing a winter coat in summer when at a standstill.
- When stopped, full-face helmets got terrible airflow for breathing (like wearing a facemask)
- Breathing all the hot exhaust fumes of stopped cars around a motorcycle can induce dizziness for a rider.
- A motorcycle engine and its rider are very close together adding extra heat to deal with.
- The pavement will absorb and radiate back the heat from the sun’s rays.
Long story short, being stuck on a motorcycle in heavy traffic on a hot day is not a pleasant experience.
For the same reason, you may often see motorcycles cut off traffic and ride between lanes of vehicles.
I have a dedicated article on the subject you can view here explaining why bikers got further reasons to ‘’cheat’’ in traffic congestion.
A rider needs to generate a breeze by staying in motion to cool off; that is the key.
Since such harsh conditions are prone to heatstroke risk, allowing motorcycles to use the HOV to get out of these hellholes makes sense.
Besides, many bikes use an air-cooling system that might overheat if standing still for too long.
Seeing a motorcycle rider without a passenger ride the HOV is exasperating while stuck in a jam.
I once heard a lady rant at me in passive-aggressive style with the ‘’you must feel so special’’ speech while filling up my bike at a gas station.
She blabbered about how unfair it was for me to use the HOV lane while she was stuck in traffic driving a car.
I understand that this can generate frustration from other road users, car drivers in particular.
But I hope you realize that solo motorcycles riders can use the HOV for valid reasons.
If you still find it unfair for yourself, why don’t you carpool with other people? You would then be allowed to use the HOV no problem.
Or better yet, have you considerer riding a motorcycle?
I can assure you the experience is worth it.
Otherwise, take care.
Drive and Ride Safe.
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Pictures Sources in order of appearance
- Photo by Harley-Davidson