Carpool Lane Violations: What’s Your Excuse?

We have all been there. Isolated in a sea of rush hour traffic that isn’t rushing anywhere. You’re boxed in and your inner speed demon is aching to squash the accelerator to the floor and leave the city in a wake of exhaust. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see a driver’s Shangri La: the carpool lane with its pristine asphalt stretching ahead for miles and devoid of idling vehicles.

You start to daydream: Who would care if you pulled into the HOV lane and just went a few miles? Your question is answered quickly by the pretty blue lights flashing in your rear-view and you find yourself explaining to Officer Unforgiving that you were “in a hurry.”

Back in reality, traffic violations may have a noticeable effect on your insurance premiums, which is why being smart on the road not only saves lives, it can help save you money, too.

I have made the mistake. I took the wrong turn and wound up all alone in the carpool lane. I realized my error and merged nervously back into regular traffic (only after I took a moment to savor the luxury of an open road, of course). I drove for a dozen paranoid miles obsessively checking my rear-view and thinking the 1989 Corolla was an unmarked police car. Luckily, I didn’t receive a ticket that day.

However, some daring motorists embrace the carpool lane boasting some not-so-subtle gimmicks devised to trick the police. Trust me, police do not give extra credit for creativity. If you find yourself standing before a municipal court judge, here are some of the ploys often used to deceive the authorities:

  • A life-like mannequin in the passenger seat, a cardboard cutout made to look like a passenger or a lifelike doll buckled into a child safety seat.
  • Having a fake conversation with said mannequin, cardboard cutout or lifelike doll.
  • Fake stickers saying your vehicle is a low emissions vehicle (when it isn’t!).
  • Telling the police your wife is in labor or other medical emergency. (Just try to talk your way out of the police escort to the hospital!)

If you fancy yourself an actor, you might recognize these lines given to the police;

  • “I’m lost.”
  • “I didn’t see the sign.”
  • “I didn’t know.”
  • “I’m from out of town.”
  • “I have to warn the president about (insert threat to humanity).”

But why not actually carpool? Why not think of a traffic jam as a miniature break from your daily tasks? Why not crank the radio and serenade your fellow gridlocked drivers? Many cities and companies offer a reward system for carpooling, telecommuting or using public transit. The clean air campaign is just one example. Ask your company about the possibility of telecommuting to completely avoid the mayhem of rush hour and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Whatever your reason to get there on time, make the smart choices and avoid citations that can affect your driving record and your insurance premiums. Visit for more auto insurance information.