HERO Program

The HERO Program helps WSDOT educate HOV and HOT lane violators and ferry line cutters on the purpose, rules, and benefits of these freeway lanes and ferry lines. We started the program in 1984 as a way to encourage drivers to self-enforce HOV lane rules. It is now a nationally recognized program which has served as a role model for similar programs in other states. We expanded the program to include ferries in 2010.

How the HERO Program works

Drivers can report HOV, HOT lane or ferry line violators online or by calling at 1-877-764-HERO. We will then mail educational materials about HOV, HOT lane and ferry line usage to the registered owner of the vehicle that was seen violating.

First-time HOV lane violators are sent an educational brochure. Second-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from WSDOT. Third-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Patrol.

If a law enforcement officer sees you, there is a possible fine of $186 for first offense and up to $536 for those who are repeat offenders and also have a mannequin, doll or dummy to make it appear there's another person in the vehicle. It's also a possible moving violation on your driving record.

First time ferry line violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Ferries. Second-time ferry line violators are send a letter from the Washington State Patrol.

Drivers who feel they have been mistakenly reported can fill out an online dispute violation form or call 1-877-764-HERO.

How the HERO program works with HOT lanes on SR 167 and Express Toll Lanes on I-405

Solo drivers can use both the SR 167 HOT lanes and I-405 express toll lanes without having additional passengers in their car as long as they’re following the requirements to pay a toll.

What the numbers look like

Violation Reports and Outreach, 2018-19

Total number of license plate numbers reported to HERO:  70,679
Total number of brochures mailed to drivers:  41,243
Total number of letters mailed to drivers:  1594
Average number of monthly phone calls to HERO:  1085
Average number of monthly online reports to HERO:  1928

Violation Rates

National average: 10-15%
WA average: 5-10%
Repeat Offenders: 5-7%

Targeted Enforcement Based on Your Reports

The HERO Program helps us make the most of limited law enforcement resources. When large numbers of cheaters are reported at specific locations, we share the information with the Washington State Patrol to help them target enforcement emphasis. These are the current hot spots where we have received a high number of violation reports:

Current Hot Spots
Highway Location Direction
I-5 NE 175th Street (ramps) North and southbound
I-5 Reversible Express Lanes North and southbound
I-405 Downtown Bellevue North and southbound
I-405 Totem Lake North and southbound
I-405 Between SR 167 and I-90 North and southbound
SR 509 1st Avenue Bridge North and southbound
SR 520 At 84th and 92nd Avenues NE East and westbound
SR 520 Montlake Blvd. E East and westbound


Citations Issued by Washington State Patrol

HOV Violation Citations 2018 2019
Warnings 5,849 5,225
Tickets 13,448 13,483


How the HERO Program works with Washington State Ferries

Drivers are expected to get into the ferry line at the end of the line. Drivers who use side streets to cut into an existing ferry line are violating the law.

A concerned driver can call in a potential violator through the HERO Program if they see a car cutting into a ferry line.

Our current focus includes Clinton, Mukilteo, Kingston and Edmonds ferry terminals. But we will accept reports from all ferry terminals.

Here are the numbers by the seasons for 2014.


Ferry line cutters

  Spring March-May Summer June-August Fall
Mukilteo 153 363 155 43
Clinton 34 120 45 16
Edmonds 107 379 102 44
Kingston 72 102 34 15


How can I get more information?

For more information about the HERO Program, see the HERO Common Questions page or contact us at HEROHOV@wsdot.wa.gov.