HOV Lane Rules: Do You Know These Carpool Lane Laws?

Whether you’re commuting to or from work, headed to Sky Harbor airport, or off on an Arizona road trip, you want to take advantage of the high occupancy vehicles (HOV) lane. Made to reduce travel times and facilitate the flow of traffic, the HOV lane is any freeway driver’s best friend—but not everyone can use it.

Get the HOV lane facts that every Arizona driver needs to know. 

The Ins and Outs


There are HOV lanes on just about every highway in the Phoenix area, but as you travel to other parts of the state, you won’t find any. Make sure to plan accordingly next time you head out on a trip through Arizona.   


Unlike our Western neighbor California, Arizona does not have specified HOV lane exit and entry points. As long as you meet HOV lane requirements, you can move in and out of the lane whenever you’d like.  


Arizona is also different from many other states because there are no high occupancy toll lanes. All HOV lanes in the state are completely free to use (as long as you aren’t violating any HOV regulations).

HOV Laws to Know


The HOV lane is also known as the carpool lane because it’s meant for people that are doing just that, carpooling. In other words, a vehicle can only enter the HOV lane if there are at least two people in the car (the driver included). 


The HOV lane is restricted during traffic’s peak hours: 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During these hours, drivers are prohibited from entering the carpool lane (even to pass other cars) unless they meet one of the other requirements. When in doubt, glance at the HOV highway signs, which display the hours during which the lane is restricted. 


There’s one exception to the two-person rule: alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), which include hybrid, electric, solar, hydrogen, and natural gas vehicles. In any case, if the vehicle has the Arizona “blue sky” license plate, it can use the HOV lane during restricted hours even if the driver is the only occupant. 


Motorcycles with just one individual are free to use the HOV lane because they are already at their max capacity. Buses, too, are able to use the lane at any time regardless of the number of passengers. Of course, emergency response vehicles are exempt from HOV restrictions as well. 

The Price of Breaking the Rules

Too often, individuals try to sneak their way into the HOV lane, like this driver who tried to fool authorities by using a fake skeleton as his second passenger. However, this can have costly consequences. Violating HOV restrictions can lead to fines starting at $400. If you’re driving a single-occupancy vehicle, make sure you pay attention to the clock so you don’t risk paying for a traffic citation. 

Want to know more about navigating Arizona’s freeways? Our expert driving instructors are here to teach you all the rules of the road. Find out more about what we offer at Stop and Go Driving School.