CHP say Bay Area driver was chauffeuring a mannequin in the carpool lane

A mannequin sits in a minivan wearing a hat and dark glasses.
After a California Highway Patrol officer stopped the driver, “lo and behold, the passenger in back wasn’t moving or saying anything,” said a CHP spokesman.
(Courtesy of California Highway Patrol)

A Bay Area driver was caught chauffeuring a mannequin on Highway 101 this week in an apparent attempt to use the carpool lane, according to California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Susan Withers of the Marin Division spotted the nattily dressed “passenger” in a minivan on the highway near Ignacio Boulevard, about 20 miles north of San Francisco, during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, said Officer Darrel Horner.

“Something didn’t look right,” Horner said. “She made the stop, and lo and behold, the passenger in back wasn’t moving or saying anything.”


Not only that, the heavily tattooed figure in back remained ramrod straight with his arms at his sides, conveniently disguised in dark tinted glasses, a goatee and straw lifeguard hat.

Officers are used to catching cheaters in the carpool lane, Horner said. Many Bay Area commuters travel from as far north as Santa Rosa to work in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and will take any advantage to shave a few minutes off the drive.

But few make such brazen attempts as to use a mannequin.

“Sometimes they see us riding in the next lane over, and once they see us they try to get over before they pass us,” Horner said. “This is the first time I’ve seen this in this area.”

Some Southern California drivers are bolder. In 2021, CHP officers stopped a driver in Glendora with a hyper-realistic dummy riding shotgun. The mannequin wore a plaid flannel button-down, Cleveland baseball cap, blue surgical mask and carefully painted wrinkles.

Every year, some pregnant women also try to claim their fetuses give them the right to use the high-occupancy-vehicle lane, officials said.

Republican lawmakers in Texas even tried to enshrine that right into law, following a widely-covered attempt by a Plano woman to have her ticket dismissed in the wake of the state’s 6-week abortion ban.


But in California, only actual passengers can help drivers avoid a $490 ticket.