Some Virginia drivers are confused by new lane markings at the sides of the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes along I-66 near the Capital Beltway. The Virginia Department of Transportation is attempting to make the lane more defined and limiting weaving in and out of the HOV lane, something which they say slows the flow of traffic. The answer, they believe, is to use double-solid white lines as lane markings, to make drivers think twice about weaving.

The only problem with their plan is that such lines do not exist in the Virginia driver’s manual and many drivers are confused by them. Simply put, they don’t know if they can cross the lines or not, or when then can cross into the HOV lane.

For now the new double-solid white lines are only in a trial mode, with the Virginia Department of Transportation testing to see whether or not they have the desired effect. If they do work as intended it seems very likely that the state will make them permanent in which case a description of the new lane markings and how to use them will be included in the Virginia state driver’s manual. Until then drivers will need to figure it out for themselves and hope for the best.

The study, in which state police participated, recommended limiting the locations where drivers can move in and out of the HOV lanes in the hope that compliance would lead to better travel times. Drivers are seeing the results of that recommendation in these double lines, marking the areas where there should be no lane changes.

It’s a work in progress. Still to come are signs that read “Do not cross double white lines.” The gaps in the solid lines at certain locations are there to allow traffic to enter and exit the HOV lane, according to Randy Dittberner, VDOT’s regional traffic engineer.