SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials are cracking down on motorists who violate the rules of driving in freeway express lanes.
About one in every six drivers in Utah express lanes break the rules — more than twice the national average. Violations include everything from crossing double-white lines and not having the required number of riders to not paying tolls, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
State officials said that’s concerning to federal regulators and could lead to sanctions if violation rates are not lowered over time.
So the state is planning an enforcement blitz Tuesday through Thursday to ticket scofflaws and bring more attention to rules of the fast lane.
"Too often, Utah drivers are violating the law by using the express lane as a passing lane, or crossing the double white lines, which is unsafe and illegal," said Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson.
"With this blitz, our goal is to significantly reduce Utah’s alarmingly high rate of express lanes violations and keep Utah’s roads safe," he said. Citations could cost up to $100 and put points for a moving violation on driving records.
"Traffic goes a lot faster in the express lanes, so crossing the double-white lines is very dangerous," in part because traffic there is not expecting it, said Carlos Braceras, deputy director of the Utah Department of Transportation.
UDOT spokeswoman Mindy Nelson said the state conducted a study on express lane compliance last February, as is required annually because of federal funding that pays for the lanes. The study showed that 17 percent of traffic in express lanes committed some violation there.
She said the federal government expects violation rates to be between 8 and 15 percent. If Utah’s rates stay high, the state could face sanctions.
Nelson said state officials don’t know why Utah has such a high violation rate. But they suspect it could be because the lanes are relatively new and some drivers mistakenly think they can be used as high speed passing corridors.