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High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes - Lines and Signs

What does an HOV lane look like? How is it different from a general traffic lane?

HOV lanes on Highways Highways 403, 404, 417 and the QEW are the inside (leftmost) lane, and can be identified by signs and diamond symbols on the pavement. The HOV lane is separated from other general traffic lanes by a striped buffer zone. It is illegal and unsafe to cross the striped buffer pavement markings.

Green Plate Sign - New informational signage is also located at the entry and exit points that indicate that access is permitted for vehicles with special green licence plates, even if there is only one individual in the car.  (See: Electric Vehicles – Ontario’s Green Plates)


Sign - Do Not Cross   Sign - Do Not Cross   Sign - 2 or More Persons   Sign - Do Not Cross   Illustration of HOV lane markings

Sign - HOV 1 km   Sign - HOV Begins   Sign - HOV Ends

How do drivers know if an HOV lane is beginning/ending?

The start and end of each HOV lane is marked by special signs.

Note: Bilingual and French language signs are provided on those sections of highway that have been designated under the French Language Services Act.

Entering a New HOV Lane Beginning on the left

On provincial highways HOV lanes are developed by adding a new inside (leftmost) lane to existing corridors. Where the HOV lane begins, signs on the left side of the highway inform carpools and buses to move left into the new lane. An overhead sign indicates the beginning of the HOV lane.

Entering an HOV Lane Continued From an Existing Lane

In some locations, where a highway on-ramp used to end, the on-ramp lane has been extended as the new HOV lane. In this situation, motorists not permitted to use the HOV lane have to exit that lane before the start of the HOV lane designation. Overhead signs at 1 kilometre and again at 500 metres before the start of the HOV lane designation advise drivers to exit the lane. Overhead signing and closely spaced white broken lines and diamond symbol pavement markings indicate the beginning of the HOV lane.

End of an HOV Lane

Once the HOV lane designation and striped buffer pavement markings end, general traffic is free to move over into the leftmost lane when it is safe to do so.

How do drivers enter and exit HOV lanes?

HOV lanes are accessible only at designated entry and exit locations. These are generally available every 2-4 km and are about 400 metres in length. You can enter or exit an HOV lane wherever closely spaced broken lines indicate a break in the striped buffer pavement markings. These broken lines are wider and closer together than regular broken lines dividing the general traffic lanes. The HOV diamond symbols are also more frequent and closely spaced at these designated entry and exit locations.

Using a designated zone to enter/exit an HOV lane

Illustration of a designated zone

How do drivers move safely from the HOV lane to their desired exit?

HOV lane users must use designated locations to exit the HOV lane in advance of their intended highway interchange exit. Special HOV guide signs advise HOV drivers of upcoming exits.

Sign - exit ahead

Leave the HOV lane at the upcoming exit zone for this highway exit ramp

Sign - exit here

Leave the HOV lane at this exit zone for this highway exit ramp

Sign - No Access

In a few locations, there may be no access from the HOV lane to an upcoming interchange. A sign is posted before the HOV lane begins to advise drivers not to enter the HOV lane if they wish to use that interchange.

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