Question: I commute from Tacoma to Seattle, and Im seeing more and more people cheating in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes.
The other day on I-405 I saw 20-25 cars with only one person in them within four or five minutes.
Is there any way the state could have infrared cameras that see into cars and tell from the heat how many people are inside?
They could be portable devices that could be moved around from place to place.
It would be a great money-maker for the state, and it would keep the blood pressure down on people like me who like to obey the law. -- Tom Anderson, Tacoma
Answer: The Washington State Department of Transportation has looked into infrared detection systems for HOV lanes, and it might not be too long before the technology is ready for use.
So far, though, according to Mark Leth, regional traffic engineer for the Transportation Departments Northwest Region, the technology isnt available at a price that makes sense.
Its more complex than one would think at first, added Claudia Bingham Baker, a spokeswoman for the agency. The technology just simply isnt there yet.
Some of the challenges involve telling the heat of humans from a pet dog or a cup of steaming coffee. And, while the best test models are good at identifying the number of people in the front seat, theyre less reliable at detecting passengers in back seats, in car seats or lying down.
Something you might want to think about is using the states reporting system for HOV and HOT (high-occupancy toll) lane violators.
Drivers can report violators online or by calling at 1-877-764-HERO.