The Wall Street Journal reports that cheating in order to use the HOV lane has reached epidemic proportions. Yes, folks are using “Carpool Kenny” in order to hop into the fast lane, make their commutes shorter, and all without the pesky chatter of a real person. “Carpool Kenny” was once sold an Amazon — an inflatable dummy torso in a gray suit and sunglasses. There are dolls propped in car seats and piles of wood graced by a hoodie. The human mind has no limitations when it comes to finding ways to game the system.
However, state troopers are onto the carpool lane cheaters. New York, California, and Florida now have carpool lane cheaters targeted. The task forces were created because police were alarmed at the number of non-moving “passengers” in baseball caps and sunglasses cruising the freeways during rush hour. Arizona State Police post photos online of their “gotchas.” The jokes, puns, and campaigns are great fun, “Don’t be a dummy!” “We check pulses.” “Pets, wood, ghosts, Santa, and dolls are not passengers.”
The cheaters’ thoughts? Rationalization, of course. They have seen police prop dummies into parked patrol cars to set up fake speed traps so that drivers slow down.
The fines are hefty — $500 is typical. But, legality is a fairly low bar for ethics. Beyond that, it is cheating. For all who play by the rules, whether in college admissions or gettin ahead in the morning commute, the shortcuts of the gamers punish the innocent and chip away at decency.