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The Danger of the Carpool Lane

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This blog is mainly about insurance, but it doesn’t hurt to throw in some safety tips here and there, especially when they may affect what you pay in auto insurance premiums.

A couple of years back, I was involved in a car accident, a rather horrific one, though luckily no one was seriously injured.

I was traveling in the carpool lane around dusk on a Sunday, and traffic was flowing pretty well, though there was some stop-and-go.

Seemingly out of nowhere, traffic came to a sudden stop, as it does on Southern California freeways quite frequently.

Traffic became so thick that I actually had to stop my car completely and rather abruptly; meanwhile, quite a large gap had developed behind me.

As I looked in my rear view, I saw the car traveling behind me approaching quite quickly, as if they didn’t realize traffic was completely stopped, perhaps because other lanes were still moving.

Within seconds, there was intense impact and my car was spun across three lanes before being hit again and coming to a stop.

As I mentioned, everyone was lucky to get out of the accident relatively unscathed, but cars were totaled (plenty of property damage), the entire freeway was shut down, and emotions were running high.

After I went home, I thought about the accident quite a bit, and it occurred to me that the carpool lane was somewhat to blame for the accident.

Sure, the driver behind me should have been more observant, but the flow of traffic in the carpool lane differs from traffic in other lanes on the freeway.

For this reason, motorists may be thrown off it traffic is flowing in the lane(s) next to them, but moving differently in their own lane.

The carpool lane also tends to gap quite a bit because of the lack of vehicles in the lane, and is often a fast moving lane of traffic, so the combination can be more conducive to accidents.

I spoke with my insurance adjuster and he echoed the sentiment; he told me he avoids the carpool lane, as a lot of accidents tend to take place out there.

I too avoid the carpool lane, just as a precautionary move, because I now see the danger in it as opposed to traveling in traditional lanes on the freeway.

(photo: califrayray)

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