A High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or Car Share lane is a lane of the road designated for vehicles with two or more occupants. Car Share lanes are a potential method of encouraging greener travel by giving priority to vehicles with multiple occupants. The Highways Agency is currently investigating the feasibility of implementing such a lane on the M1 motorway. TRL were commissioned to evaluate the proposed design of the M1 HOV lane scheme using a driving simulator study. In particular, the project aimed to evaluate: the clarity of the signing and road markings; use and violations; impact on motorway exit behaviour and driver attitudes toward the scheme
The simulator study was conducted with 47 participants. Participants were randomly designated as either HOV drivers or Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) drivers in order to examine the response of both types of users. The differences in behaviour between younger (17-44) and older (45+) drivers were also investigated. Results indicated that the majority of drivers were able to correctly negotiate the scheme. There were few violations by SOVs despite the frustrating circumstances where there was heavy traffic in the SOV lanes and virtually no traffic in the HOV lane. Results of the behaviour questionnaire indicate that there was some confusion over the rules governing the use of the car share lane under unusual circumstances (e.g. a lane closure); however, an effective publicity campaign has the potential to increase the efficiency with which drivers use a HOV lane scheme in the real world.

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