For HOV enforcement, cameras wouldn't always get the full picture

(Evy Mages For The Washington Post)
Thursday, November 4, 2010

A driver concerned about enforcement of the rules for carpool lanes said cheating has gotten so bad that we should consider using cameras to catch violators [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 24]. This response recommends a person-to-person approach to enforcement.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am a retired Virginia State Police master trooper. During my employment, I wrote hundreds of tickets for violations in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Many times, we saw vehicles that appeared to have only the driver. Upon stopping the vehicles, we found infants and older children in child seats in the back. It was impossible to see these young passengers initially, because in most cases their child seats sat very low, below the window level. If an experienced police officer has trouble seeing all the occupants, I can certainly see why the general public has the same problem.

I found that many working mothers were fortunate to have employers who provided on-the-job day care. Kids traveled back and forth with Mom and, in some cases, Dad.

Whenever I stopped a car and found children, I asked the driver to have the kids wave when a police officer pulled next to them in the HOV lanes, looking for a potential violation. I always waved back. This simple act saved many drivers from being stopped when they were complying with the law. My favorite was a young mother who had small twin daughters.

She must have been a former cheerleader, because both of the twins had pompoms that they waved whenever I passed them. That made my day!

Stanley Guess

Woodstock, Va.

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