BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Fed up with crawling Bay Area traffic, more and more solo commuters are taking a gamble by cheating the carpool system, with thousands of those drivers getting caught.
It’s happening more and more on Bay Area highways. As traffic get worse, so to the number of drivers cheating their way into restricted diamond carpool lanes has gone up.
“People are trying to get to work as fast as they can,” said Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “They are breaking the rules.”
In recent years, there has been a near 4,000-a-year spike in tickets for Bay Area carpool cheats.
The number of citations given out rose from 17,375 in 2010 to 19,858 in 2013 and 21,000 this year.
“They’re cutting in line,” explained CHP Officer Sean Wilkenfeld. “They think they are more important that everybody else who is patiently waiting.”
Impressive as the stats may be, those are just the cheaters that get caught. Earlier this year Santa Clara County officials clocked a 40-percent spike in violations.
“I personally stopped someone in the afternoon who got a ticket in the morning from a different CHP officer,” said Wilkenfeld.
“You see people cheating the system and it makes you really upset,” one commuter told KPIX.
“These are people who have probably been doing this everyday — for months or maybe even years before they got caught,” said Wilkenfeld.
But with traffic being what it is, drivers KPIX talked to admitted that sometimes they couldn’t help but be tempted:
“All the time,” said one commuter with a laugh. “But I know the consequences.”
Rentschler assures drivers the risk is not worth the possible cost.
“It’s a [nearly] $500 ticket; you don’t want to pay that,” he said.
With tickets costing drivers that much, the CHP said they will be increasing their patrols to discourage the carpool scofflaws.