There may be some sweet, sweet retribution around the corner for law-breaking motorists.
Four new bills introduced in the Legislature last week seek to curb Washingtonian's bad habit of driving in lanes that they are not supposed to drive in.
Yep! There are enough people sneaking into HOV and bus-only lanes that the Washington State Department of Transportation is turning to democracy to solve the problem. Yikes. The bills—there are two each accompanied by a "companion" bill—were both requested by WSDOT, according to Seattle Transit Blog.
One set of bills—House Bill 1710, by Rep. Jake Fey (D – Tacoma) and SB 5695 by Sen. Marko Liias (D – Lynnwood) would raise the fine amount for anyone who violates the HOV lane rules—sometimes at least two people have to be in the car, sometimes at least three (there's signage). The current fine amount, which our pal Todd Herman over at KIRO Radio knows a lot about, is $136. These bills would raise that to $242. But, the fine amount would increase for every infraction: the first time it's $242, the second time it's $499, and after that? Violators would pay $755 from the third infraction onwards.
It seems like these bills are aimed at habitual HOV lane drivers like Herman, a man who boasts about driving in the HOV lane illegally. From a cop who pulled Herman over: "[Defendant] stated he drives in the HOV every morning and will continue to do so." Herman even encourages his audience to do it. That's just a piece of his bad traffic advice.
From Seattle Transit Blog:
At the hearing for SB 5695, Sen. Liias gave anecdotal testimony... that lane violators are probably being caught roughly once per hundred times they wrongfully enter HOV lanes.
The two other bills in the Legislature, HB 1793, by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien), and SB 5789, by Sen. Liias, will install traffic cameras that will ticket people who infringe on bus-only lane requirements. It's like a red light cam, but for being an asshole.
The bills are still very much in their beginning phases. The Senate Bill for the HOV lane had its hearing this week. The camera bills will be heard next week. Still, there's even bipartisan support for these bills. That's a good sign. Although Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato proposed just opening up the lanes to all traffic. Helpful.