15 Strange Ways People Have Tried to Cheat the Carpool Lane (and Failed Miserably)
Don't have a second passenger for the HOV lane? These drivers got creative...and paid for it.
A skeleton (fake)
This tale of woe begins like many others: a Washington state driver was sick of his commute. Instead of letting the HOV elites pass him over and over, he decided to join their ranks—by filling his passenger seat with a plastic skeleton in a hoodie. The motorist rolled the bones for months before finally getting caught, earning himself a $454 ticket and momentary viral fame. And it turns out fake skeletons in cars aren’t all that uncommon, as these craziest things drive-thru workers have seen on the job prove.
A dead body (REAL)
To be fair, the car was a hearse, the driver was an undertaker, and the body was buckled safely into his casket. The grim roadster argued in court that the occupied casket in his backseat should be considered a second passenger in his vehicle. His case died quickly. (RIP.)
The Supreme Court has regarded corporations as people in First Amendment cases—so why should traffic court be any different? Such was one California man’s thinking when he merged into the carpool lane, his only other passenger being the articles of incorporation for his business, stacked unbuckled in the passenger’s seat. The judge didn’t buy it, and forced the man to pay his full $478 fine, citing “common sense.” This most definitely breaks the rules of driving etiquette you should always follow.
Donald Trump’s head
Stuffing a cardboard cutout into the passenger’s seat is about as close to “the oldest trick in the book” as you can get for carpool cheats. Still, scofflaws continue to demonstrate that art is constantly evolving. Most recently: an HOV cheat in Washington state affixed a cardboard Trump head to the front of his passenger’s seat. Tremendous.
The most interesting man in the world
Another variation on the theme of cardboard passengers (also from Washington state…Come on, Seahawks!) was this bust of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in The World character, wrapped in a t-shirt and buckled up tight. “I don’t always violate the HOV lane law,” a state trooper tweeted, “but when I do, I get a $124 ticket.”
A bottle of bubbly in a car seat
Traffic cops are getting really good at spotting cheaters. But even California’s eagle-eye officer Alvin Yamaguchi had to get right up in one driver’s business before noticing his handiwork. “He had a blanket covering the [baby] seat,” Yamaguchi said. “I pointed at him to take it off. When he did, there was a bottle of champagne on ice.” Cheers! (Don’t drink and drive.) Find out the things you should never, ever leave in your car.
A dog. Just a straight-up dog
Officer Yamaguchi’s favorite carpool cheater story is about the guy who had a full-grown German shepherd buckled into his passenger seat. “This guy told me that he shouldn’t get cited because the dog was a family member. . . .He was adamant about it.”
Humans for hire
From 2003 until April 2016, cars in Jakarta, Indonesia, required three occupants to legally travel on the city’s best roads during peak hours. For many motorists, it became more cost effective to hire the extra passengers than use inferior thoroughfares. One 23-year-old woman, a professional passenger as of 2012, made her living charging motorists 20,000 rupiah (about $2.15) for a single ride with her and her baby. These are the things you’re probably doing in your car—but shouldn’t be.
A female mannequin in a hoodie
An officer of California’s Brea Police Department pulled a truck over to reprimand the driver about his sloppy lane-changing. That’s when he discovered the man’s passenger was armless—because she was a mannequin torso stuffed into a hoodie. The officer couldn’t help but tweet his amusement.
A male mannequin in a wig
Ladies go crazy for a sharp-dressed man…nequin. This dapper dummy was caught in Virginia, wearing a smart button-up shirt and Bieber-esque wig. You will be happy to know he was also wearing his seat belt. Speaking of seat belts, not wearing one is one of many non-speeding-related reasons you can get a ticket.
A zombie baby
The same Washington trooper who caught the Most Interesting Man in The World also shared this gem: a pale-faced baby doll with a hideous zombie grimace, dressed in pink (“It’s a girl!”) and strapped in, sans car seat. That’s deplorable safety, even for a zombie.
A pillow in a vest
First of all, even the fluffiest pillow looks nothing like the droopiest human. Second of all, this New York woman put her pillow pal in a denim vest—a vest! If you’re going to use a pillow as your fake passenger, why drape it in the one article of clothing guaranteed to demonstrate its lack of arms? This person might just make the list of dumbest criminals of all time.
Some wood… in a hoodie
What is it about a hoodie that makes people think they’ve developed the perfect human costume? Anyway, a Long Island man was pulled over for speeding, then given a second ticket for his carpool passenger’s wooden demeanor. That’s because his passenger was a wooden “dummy” in a hoodie, looking like nothing so much as a kitchen chair on the lam. Can you guess which US state has the worst drivers?
A big, cuddly teddy bear
Strike one: A 19-year-old was pulled over for driving over the speed limit. Strike two: with no insurance. Strike three: And a giant, plush teddy bear in her passenger’s seat…in the carpool lane. For all three offenses, the woman was ticketed more than $800. That’s a real boo-boo, Yogi.
A hybrid car
In Ontario, Canada, many hybrid electric cars are eligible to use the carpool lane, even when occupied by a single passenger. So long as a car displays a special “green license plate,” lone-wolf drivers may consider themselves above traffic. (This isn’t so much a “cheat” as a “brilliant incentive.”) Next, find out some more of the craziest things people have done while driving.