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Carpool con: Driver caught with doll in I-5 HOV lane

A man was cited speeding through Tacoma in an HOV lane, using this doll in the passenger seat in 2017. (Washington State Patrol)

A state trooper in Tacoma clocked a driver speeding in an I-5 HOV lane at 81 miles per hour Friday morning. Upon closer inspection, the trooper realized that the passenger in the car wasn’t real.

Related: Mercer Island sues Sound Transit over HOV lane access

A life-size doll — blonde with a pink headband — was propped up in the passenger’s seat. And as commentators on Twitter were quick to point out, the brown scarf clearly clashed with the pink blouse. That probably should have been another tip-off that something wasn’t right.

The driver was cited for speeding and an HOV violation. As Trooper T. Bartlolac pointed out on Twitter, “On the positive side, they were both wearing their seat belts.”

Carpool lane con

It’s not the first time a driver has attempted to fool law enforcement while driving in a carpool lane. In fact, it seems like a bit of a pastime in the Seattle region.

There was one incident on I-405 through Bellevue in 2014 — a driver used a dummy in that instance. A 21-year-old Renton driver was cited after he was caught using an inflatable doll in the passenger seat. He would have been able to drive on by if he hadn’t sharply cut off a state trooper, causing him to slam on his brakes.

Driving erratically on I-405 brought attention to another driver in 2014. In that case, the driver was using laundry stuffed inside a hoodie. In 2015, a state trooper wasn’t fooled when a driver used a mannequin in a Seahawks hoodie. She was speeding in that instance.

Down south, a California driver used the torso of a mannequin just a few months ago.

It seems that in most cases, the drivers weren’t initially pulled over for violating carpool lane rules. Rather, they were speeding, driving erratically or cutting off state troopers. It was only after being pulled over that their dummy efforts were discovered.

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