Inconsistent enforcement renders Tennessee’s HOV lanes ineffective

Remove the signs or make sure the law is being enforced.

State officials, including the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), are faced with a straightforward decision. They must choose whether to enforce the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes or remove the signs altogether.

One Thursday morning, I embarked on a drive from Cookeville to the Nashville International Airport. As I made my way, I couldn’t help but notice the flagrant disregard for the HOV lanes. Curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to conduct a little experiment. Slowing down, I carefully observed the next 20 cars in the lane, and to my surprise, only one car had more than one person inside.

The time has come to make a decision: either take down the signs or enforce the law.

The arguments will revolve around the idea that if we remove the signs, we will have to return the money to the federal government. However, the legislature has already considered this possibility in other areas earlier this year. If we can allocate funds for something as crucial as education, then we can surely do the same for a road.

Argument No. 2: Enforcing the law becomes challenging without causing traffic congestion. Concealing cameras on the rear of poles would be effortless, making it difficult to detect violations. Offenders would be fined $250 without any room for dispute or exemption. If caught again, they would face a night in jail. This approach eliminates the need for Tennessee Highway Patrol personnel to directly oversee law enforcement activities.

Argument No. 3: Why is this such a big deal? Our society is gradually becoming more inclined towards disregarding rules. If I don’t agree with a rule, I simply do as I please. This recent weekend trip further highlighted the growing disregard for the “stay seated on the airplane” rule. People simply do not seem to care anymore.

If we, as a society, choose not to enforce certain rules, it might be worth considering whether we should eliminate them altogether. For instance, if the HOV rules are no longer going to be enforced, it could be more practical to remove the signs and allow all drivers to utilize all lanes of traffic.

Larry Stone resides in Cookeville with the zip code 38506.

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