Washington state

Trump cutouts and skeletons don’t count as carpool lane passengers, Washington cops say

Washington state Trooper Axtman snapped this photo of a skeleton dressed up to fool people while the driver was in the HOV lane.
Washington state Trooper Axtman snapped this photo of a skeleton dressed up to fool people while the driver was in the HOV lane.

No, you didn’t see Donald Trump, Barbie or The Most Interesting Man in the World on I-5 near Seattle recently.

Or probably ever.

What you saw was someone likely cheating their way into the carpool lanes on Puget Sound’s main freeways, which have some of the worst traffic in the nation.

The Washington State Patrol has taken to shaming some of those cheaters on its Twitter account.

One driver on Interstate 405 in Snohomish County dressed up a skeleton — sans an attached jawbone — to fake their way past traffic.

It didn’t go well.

The driver might get to keep the skeleton, but they’re also $136 lighter in the wallet.

That’s the fine carpool violators have to pay when they’re caught, according to the Washington State Patrol, which will be cracking down on drivers who cheat the system this week.

The lanes, which are on some of Washington’s interstates and highways, let drivers with at least one passenger get out of normal traffic and into a separate dedicated carpool lane.

People have been cheating to get into the lanes for years, and it’s not a problem that’s found only in Washington. Social media is just the latest way to shame them.

Mannequins and real-sized dolls might have lifelike appearances that fool state Department of Transportation workers watching the freeways with traffic cameras.

But troopers have caught on.

It’s a gamble whether troopers are able to catch offenders, though.

“Unfortunately, the times when people are most tempted to cheat on HOV lanes are also the times when troopers are most likely to be occupied with more urgent concerns,” David Gutman of the Seattle Times wrote in a story.

Zosha Millman of SeattlePI.com reported that the state patrol’s saturation this week is focused on the three largest counties in the state: King, Snohomish and Pierce.

The state patrol already has nabbed 226 repeat offenders in 2018, SeattlePI.com reported. That’s out of more than 9,000 HOV offenders so far this year.

Though some cheaters are creative, like using facemasks and adding tablets, troopers have also come across people who have left out key details.

Like a face.

Or too much face.

Jake Dorsey: 509-582-1405
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