With the new EZ Pass express lanes being in use for over a month now, all the confusion over the tolls and EZ Pass Flex transponders has died down. On an average weekday, 37,000 vehicles are traveling in Northern Virginia’s new express lanes on I-95. One-third of those drivers are using an EZ Pass Flex device in the carpool setting, which means there are at least two passengers in the car. Before the express lanes opened, operators predicted the average rate of tolls to be between $6 and $8.However, data shows the average toll in the first month has been $4.01.For example, the toll for driving the entire 29 mile stretch of express lanes this morning was $8.
Officials had been concerned that not many drivers would purchase the EZ Pass Flex devices to take advantage of the carpool setting and avoid paying a toll. Concerns were eased when data showed 95% of drivers are using a regular EZ Pass or a Flex device. The other 5% either have an exempt status (i.e. motorcycles and emergency vehicles) or do not have a device at all. Data from the first month of operation is encouraging to Transurban, the HOT lanes operator, and additional statistics will be released in April for the entire first quarter. The addition of these express lanes with the incentive of avoiding toll fees carpooling appears to have slightly improved traffic in the very congested Northern Virginia. Some of our employees drive to work every day using these express lanes and have said how easy it is and less congested it is compared to using regular I-95 lanes.
Remember, Virginia State Police can detect when the transponder is in HOV mode and can count the number of occupants in the car. If the driver is using the express lanes with the HOV mode on to avoid paying tolls when not carpooling, they can be ticketed by police.
Traffic along I-95 throughout Virginia is some of the worst in the country, making car, truck, and motorcycle accidents a common occurrence. However, with these new express lanes and the incentive to avoid paying tolls when driving with at least two passengers, traffic should continue to improve and the number of accidents should diminish.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident or has died as a result of their injury suffered in a Virginia crash, and would like more information, please call us at (855) 954-4141 for a free case evaluation or visit us online.