House passes bill allowing pregnant women to drive solo in HOV lanes
SALT LAKE CITY — Pregnant women may soon be allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes after a bill that would allow just that passed in the Utah House of Representatives Friday.
Normally HOV lanes require you to drive with a passenger or in a certain electric car.
Rep. Stephanie Gricius, R-Eagle Mountain said that because of pregnancy difficulties, an expecting mother should always fall under the category of “two or more persons” while behind the wheel.
States like Texas and Arizona are also considering similar legislation.
Gricius said HB-256 is simple and came to her after a casual conversation with some friends.
“I just made some off-handed comments and said, ‘well, why can’t pregnant women use the carpool lane?’ And one woman looked at me and said, ‘are you going to run that bill?’ And I thought about it and said, ‘you know what, I think I am!’”
Gricius said law enforcement told her they would be able to enforce this bill. She added, if an officer cited a pregnant woman anyway, that woman would submit documents to the court showing proof of pregnancy and the citation would be automatically dismissed.
“It’s very life-affirming, it’s pro-child, it’s also pro-women. It recognizes that being pregnant is really hard and difficult for a woman and it’s just one little thing we can do without any cost to taxpayers,” she added. “Just to let women know that we are watching and we recognize that this is a difficult time and we appreciate the work that they are doing.”
There are some who oppose the bill because officers may not stop women who are driving in the lanes alone.
Rep. Karen Peterson, R-Davis County said HB-256 dilutes the purpose of the carpool lane.
“I’m a little concerned about picking out specific places in the law and saying in these instances, we are counting you as two people when you’re pregnant but in all the other instances, if it’s silent then defacto, we are counting you as one,” said Rep. Brett Garner, D-Salt Lake County. “To me, the goal of that lane is to get cars off the road, to have fewer cars driving and more people in the cars. And I know that this is a very important issue to deal with but it doesn’t take a car off the road when we’re doing this. In my opinion, we are adding cars.”
HB-256 is now in the Senate for consideration.
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