BACKGROUND: Do you ever see a person in the carpool lane and wonder where the second occupant is only to realize they are counting their child as the second occupant? A child, under the age of 16 surely shouldn't be counted as a carpool since they can't technically drive which means there are no less cars on the road, no less emissions in the air.
THE STORY: It turns out that the main reason for an infant child counting as a person/occupant is because it would be too costly for our police officers to constantly check ID's of passengers.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has the following information on its website:
"WSDOT has specified the number of passengers or occupants by posting signs along HOV lanes on the freeways. HOVs may therefore include passengers who are not licensed drivers. This includes senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children as well as other people who do not, or can not, obtain a drivers license. It does not include animals.
The words "passengers" and "occupants" were purposely chosen to ensure enforceability by the Washington State Patrol. It can already be challenging to accurately determine how many occupants are in a vehicle. It would be much more difficult and expensive for State Patrol officers to additionally be required to check occupant age or licensing status."
Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration states the following:
"Do children and infants count as passengers?
Yes. All states with HOV facilities count children and infants as passengers."
There are several other things to consider. The first is that a person, regardless of age, is an occupant. The second thing is that people with children need a way to get places faster for their own sanity! It's not that society should give special treatment or anything but when you have a newborn that is screaming or a 5 year old that needs to go potty, it's good to be able to use the HOV lane to get there faster.
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION: After being a mother of a son with GERD and a daughter with colic, I understand and appreciate why children can be considered an occupant in the carpool lane.