Play by the rules behind the wheel |

Play by the rules behind the wheel

The open secret among commuters taking Highway 82 into Aspen used to be that the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is free to any and all motorists.

But no more. Recently, Pitkin County deputies ” in response to complaints that the HOV lane was being exploited by motorists with no passengers ” have beefed up enforcement by giving warnings to maverick drivers.

It’s about time HOV enforcement, or even the potential for it, is now something drivers need to be concerned about ” other than merging into the lane in which they don’t belong. Deputies, however, are doing the job that actually is the responsibility of the Colorado State Patrol, which has done little if any enforcement.

While our local law-enforcement officers have better things to be concerned about than HOV violators, hopefully this crackdown of sorts will discourage antsy drivers from using a lane in which the intention is to speed up traffic, not slow it down.

Indeed, traffic into Aspen is bad enough, and the intention of the HOV lanes was to act as an improvement, not a deterrent.

These chronic offenders of HOV rules also have sparked a number of road-rage complaints, which provided the catalyst for the ramped-up enforcement. First-time and second-time HOV offenders are fined $66, and a third offense will cost you $126.

We encourage motorists who play by the rules to keep an eye out on the offenders. Maybe after a ticket or two these drivers will get in the lane they belong, and give our deputies something else on which to focus their time.

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