You may have noticed that HOV lanes are getting a new look: the striping that separates HOV lanes from regular lanes is now (or will be in the future) white instead of yellow, like this:
Why the switch? In short, to comply with federal standards. Yellow striping is used to separate traffic moving in opposite directions, and white striping is used to separate traffic moving in the same direction — so says the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which specifies the standards on such things as striping and signage in painstaking detail. Since HOV traffic travels in the same direction as traffic in the other lanes, the striping should be white, hence the switcheroo.
Caltrans officially made the switch in 2010 as part of a much broader effort to adopt federal standards for HOV signage and pavement markings. Going forward, all HOV lanes will have white striping. So, the 53 miles of HOV lanes now under construction in District 7 will have white striping from the get-go. Existing yellow striping on the 443-mile HOV system in Los Angeles County will be replaced when it makes sense to do so — for example, when paving work requires restriping.
Friendly Reminder: Crossing double white or yellow HOV lines is prohibited — expect a $490 minimum fine for the first offense. (Yowch!) So stay put in the HOV lane ‘til you get to the broken white line, which indicates that entering and exiting the HOV lane is permitted.
Want more info about pavement markings? (And who doesn’t?) Check out the MUTCD, 2009 edition. Good stuff on HOV pavement markings is here.