Getting in and out of HOV lanes means crossing line

Sometimes, we need to be told what to do.

It’s a confusing world out there. There are rules to follow. Other people to consider.

But when the rules aren’t clear, it’s hard to know what to do.

Are you allowed to cross over a solid line? Turn around on a busy street? Renew your driver’s license by mail?

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Two people emailed virtually the same question on the same day last week. That right there is a trend — or it’s a conspiracy and they have successfully gamed the system.

John said he was traveling U.S. Highway 95 pretty much from end to end and he noticed that the HOV lanes always start with a solid white line. How are you supposed to enter without crossing the line?

Elizabeth said she talked to a “law enforcement officer” who said it’s illegal to change lanes if you’re in the HOV lane.

I went to Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Loy Hixson for this one.

He said nothing in the state law says when you can or can’t exit the HOV lanes.

“As for solid white lines, if there is only one, then it is only a recommendation that a vehicle not cross over; but when there are two, such as the express lanes on I-15, then it is illegal to cross over,” he wrote in an email.

(While we’re talking about the HOV lanes, I asked the trooper a question my then-pregnant editor asked me: Can pregnant women use the HOV lanes? “After looking at the statute governing HOV lanes, I would have to say yes, a pregnant woman can legally drive in the HOV lane,” Hixson wrote, “as long as there is second occupant or passenger in that vehicle.” A trooper with a sense of humor.)

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Next up, U-turns. A reader with a fun email address but no name wrote in wondering what’s allowed here.

The law is pretty clear: You can pretty much make a U-turn at any old intersection you want, so long as there’s not a sign saying you can’t.

There are a couple of exceptions, including on a curve or a hill where oncoming traffic can’t see you coming. Duh.

Also, the law says you can’t make a U-turn “in a business district, except at an intersection or on a divided highway where an appropriate opening or crossing place exists.”

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Suzanne wrote in saying she was confused by the state’s rules for renewing driver’s licenses. Can you renew by mail if you’re over 70?

You can, but the law requires you to jump through a few hoops.

All drivers in Nevada must renew their licenses every four years. Every eight years, they must do it in person, submitting to a vision test.

But once you hit 71, you might want to do it in person every time. If you renew by mail once you’re that age, you’ll have to include a report from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or physician stating details about your vision in each eye, as well as a statement from a doctor saying you’re physically fit to drive.

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Dick wrote in aggravated about a traffic light on Grand Central Parkway between The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Molasky building at Carson Avenue, a road that doesn’t go anywhere in one direction and doesn’t even exist in the other.

“Why stop traffic for nothing?” he wondered. “It’s a waste of time and gasoline.”

It sure seems that way.

But then I checked with city of Las Vegas spokeswoman Diana Paul, who filled me in.

Yes, she acknowledged, that light seems pointless. But it serves an important purpose.

On Grand Central Parkway, the buses run in the median, between the moving cars going in each direction. When the bus going eastbound gets to Carson, that travel-in-the-median lane ends, so the bus must swoop over into the regular driving lanes. It would not be a good idea to do that if there were cars driving in those lanes.

So, the traffic light. It’s there to stop cars while the bus merges back into regular lanes.

“The only time traffic is stopped is when a bus comes along in the eastbound direction, approximately once every 10 to 15 minutes,” Paul said. “The westbound traffic is never affected.”

She also noted that the signal allows people to make U-turns on Grand Central, and that it’ll handle future traffic when Carson is realigned.

Got a transportation question, comment or gripe? Ship it off to roadwarrior Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter @RJroadwarrior.

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