A driver was fined by local highway patrol for having a mannequin pose as a passenger on the Highway 101 carpool lane, south of Santa Rosa, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP) on their Facebook page.
The oddly-dressed “passenger” was unable to evade the trained eye of CHP Officer Ken Enger, who was on patrol for the after-work rush hour on Friday, July 7.
It was the mannequin’s thick, black hoody that caught Officer Enger’s attention.
The CHP post commented on Enger’s useful skills as a “trained observer of human nature and fashion.” Enger didn’t think the hoody was a sensible choice of dress for the afternoon, with temperatures nudging 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The driver was stopped just after 5 p.m. near Todd Road, according to the Press Democrat.
In the post, the CHP commented that its officers catch high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane abusers on a daily basis. HOV lanes in Sonoma County are in force at peak driving times, restricting lane traffic to vehicles with two or more passengers.
Other than suspicious mannequins, Officer Kerri Post commented to the Press Democrat that CHP officers have also seen hatted head rests, plastic-wrapped head rests with jackets draped on seats, and baby dolls in car seats among the methods that HOV lane abusers use in an attempt to avoid fines.
While the enforcement of HOV lane-use in most states remains reliant on highway patrols by local and state police officers, the CHP also regularly receives calls from incensed commuters reporting abuse by other drivers.
Washington State is currently the only state with an official program for commuter self-enforcement of HOV lane-use. Dubbed “HERO,” the program was commissioned in 1984 as an aid for Washington State Patrol to identify hot spots of HOV violation, according to the Seattle Times. At the same time, as an alternative to direct action, the program offers law-abiding drivers a constructive way to express their distaste for those who violate the use of HOV lanes.
The Washington State Department of Transportation website reports that the national average for HOV lane abuse stands at 10 to 15 percent.
From NTD Television