Carpool lane cheaters -- drivers who don't have enough passengers to qualify for access to the lanes but use them anyway -- have become so commonplace that they're clogging some diamond lanes, slowing the trip for those who pile a couple of passengers into their cars. Caltrans data show that carpool lane cheaters have become more common as traffic has worsened over the past five years.
"They usually don't have anyone or anything in their cars -- it's just one person,'' said Joyce Holter, a solo driver who commutes on Interstate 80 between Richmond and Berkeley in the regular traffic lanes. "They're really brazen. It's amazing.''
In response to complaints, state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), has proposed legislation that would set up a hot line and Web site for motorists to tattle on carpool lane cheaters. Those cheaters would receive a warning letter. The bill, SB889, passed the Senate Transportation Committee this week.