Only very heavy vehicles excluded from HOV lanes


The in basket: William Ellis of Bremerton writes, “I often tow a 33-foot fifth-wheel trailer behind a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.

“With both my wife and I aboard, is it legal in Washington for me to use the designated two-passenger HOV lane?”

The out basket: It is legal unless his vehicle combination weighs in at over 10,000 pounds. 

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local WSP detachments says the rules for HOV use state “that any vehicle towing a trailer (it does not specify each type of trailer, but a fifth-wheel is considered a trailer) with a total weight of more than 10,000 pounds CANNOT use the HOV lanes.”

I must confess to not knowing the combined weight of a pickup and fifth wheeler, never having owned or driven one, but I’d have to guess most are under 10,000 pounds.

The other caveat is that the driver must “maintain a speed that is consistent with the flow of traffic,” she said. That’s kind of vague, of course, and it probably would fluctuate depending on whether traffic in the adjoining general purpose lanes was crawling along bumper to bumper, or moving at or above the speed limit. 

I suppose it’s one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” things.

2 thoughts on “Only very heavy vehicles excluded from HOV lanes

  1. Guranteed it is well over 10,000 pounds. The truck alone os 6,000 and it is rated to pull up to 14,000. A 33 foot fifth wheel is pulled from the truck bed rather than the trailer hitch, which is only rated to handle 7500-10,000 pounds.

  2. Road Warrior,
    > I read your column this morning (great column by the way) about
    > fifth wheels in the carpool lane. You stated in your column you had no idea about weights of these type vehicles. I tow a travel trailer (light weight 23 footer), much lighter than a fifth wheel. The truck I use, a Ford F-350 diesel, weighs in at 8,000 pounds and the trailer is 7,000 for a total of 15,000 pounds. Very few truck and trailer combinations would be less than the 10,000 lb requirement and I NEVER use the carpool lane as it is against the law.

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