1 in 10 Drivers Admits to Routinely Cheating in the Carpool Lane

Reviews.com Staff
Reviews.com Staff

There is nothing more frustrating while sitting in traffic than looking over into the carpool lane and seeing a single occupant vehicle zoom past like they know the law won’t be enforced.

And while most people play by the rules as made obvious by the number of cars sitting in stop-and-go traffic most rush hours, the Reviews.com automotive research team wanted to study how common it is for a U.S. driver to cheat by driving in the carpool lane while driving alone. The researchers surveyed 1,306 U.S. residents on their driving habits and found some notable trends regarding carpool lane violation.

Survey Findings

  • 1 in 10 drivers (10.4%) admit to routinely cheating in the carpool lane while driving alone.
  • Men are slightly more likely to cheat in the carpool lane (12.8%) than women (7.4%).
  • People 55 and older are the least likely to cheat in the carpool lane (less than 5%).
  • Drivers under 35 years old are the most likely to drive in the carpool lane by themselves (14.5%).
  • Regionality didn’t affect survey responses enough to be statistically significant. People cheat in the carpool lane at about an equal rate no matter their home state.

Of the 10.4% of drivers who say they cheat in the carpool lane, the frequency of cheating varied quite widely and was fairly balanced:

While the largest group of respondents reported only cheating in the carpool lane to make a quick pass, almost one quarter confessed to using the HOV lane as their own personal expressway.

When asked for specific reasons as to why they ignored the laws regarding carpool lanes, one person responded that he uses the carpool lane anytime he’s stuck in traffic and has never been caught.

“It saves me at least 30 minutes a day, and I have never been pulled over for it,” he said.

Others more sheepishly confessed to their cheating, mentioning that it was mostly just when they were running late or traffic was particularly bad.

And probably the most forgivable reason were those mentioning that they used the carpool lane to pass a slower driver. While this is still a violation in most instances (when HOV lane restrictions apply), many said it felt inoffensive to do so.

It’s important to note that in many states, it is a moving violation to drive in the HOV lane as a single occupant during designated HOV hours. This means getting a ticket for doing so will likely result in car insurance premium increases.

Survey Methodology

  • The survey collected responses from 1,306 U.S. residents who drive a car.
  • The survey collected responses between January 25–28, 2021, online.
  • No personally identifying information was collected from survey respondents to encourage more honesty in responses.
  • Routinely was defined as cheating in the carpool lane at least once a month.

Image credit: OLOS / Shutterstock.com

About the Authors

The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.