Life in the Carpool Lane
by Jan Baughman

A recent conversation about commuting led to a discussion of a case in San Jose, California in which a woman successfully fought a ticket for driving alone in the carpool lane. She apparently won on the grounds that she was not driving alone; there was another human being inside the car with her. She was pregnant.

After all these years of following the ebb and flow of the abortion debate and the struggle to define the onset of personhood, I *never* expected it to be solved in traffic court.... I should have seen it coming. Anyway, at last we know and can get on with it: Life begins at conception.

Some places require three people per car; others, two. I don't know if this woman was pregnant with twins, and I suppose that if she were caught in a three-person lane she would have had the burden of demonstrating the presence of two others in the car. Perhaps the radar can be modified to perform ultrasound as well.

I think we are obligated to challenge this case, first of all for its mere stupidity. Is not the purpose of carpool lanes to reduce the number of cars on the freeway? Would this unborn baby have been otherwise driving if not riding as a passenger on that particular day? (In fact, if you follow my logic, only passengers holding a driver license should count towards car pool eligibility...) My brother and his wife worked at the same University, and their two sons went to the school day care. Because the traffic was so congested, they drove separate cars to work, each with one baby, in order to use the car pool lane. Here is a case where the law resulted in a *doubling* of the number of cars on the road...

I think I'll put a "Baby on Board" sign on my window and give it a try. Sure, I don't look pregnant, but I can easily stick my stomach out three month's worth. If that doesn't work, I refer to the thousands of *potential* people that I drive around with me. They do as much to alleviate traffic as the neonates.

If anyone has information on this case, please send it to me via e-mail at the address below.

Published June 20, 1991
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