LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- When local law enforcement warns motorists that they must be accompanied by another person to utilize HOV lanes, the small print reads as follows: passengers must be alive.
Drivers have tried it with dummies and pets in the past, but Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka encountered a carpooling first on Monday — a hearse driver shuttling the deceased.
NHP tweeted the following after the incident:
Today we stopped a local funereal home hearse in the HOV lane. The driver had the dearly departed in the back, he thought the deceased could be counted as two people. I guess we should clarify this, living, breathing people count for the HOV lane. The driver was given a warning pic.twitter.com/OQms0ktl8t— NHP Southern Command (@NHPSouthernComm) July 1, 2019
Smaka pulled over a Chrysler Town and Country vehicle operated by a local funeral home on southbound I-15 near Spring Mountain Road.
The driver thought transporting the deceased individual, located in the rear cargo of the van, would qualify as HOV compliant.
"You must have a living, breathing human occupying the seats in the vehicle to be in compliance with HOV lane rules," NHP Trooper Jason Buratczuk said in a statement following the traffic stop.
In late May, 20 additional miles of HOV lanes opened on Las Vegas interstates 95 and 15. On June 20, authorities began 24/7 enforcement of these high-occupancy lanes, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
"Carpooling is just another word for ridesharing," NDOT spokesman Tony Illia told FOX5 in May. "Part of the reason why we like it is it moves more people using fewer vehicles."
Still, the eco-friendly carpooling practice is meant for those who have not yet shuffled off this mortal coil.
"I'm fairly certain I can safely say this was by far the strangest excuse for being in the HOV lane a trooper in Las Vegas has ever heard," Smaka said.
NHP told FOX5 in early May that the department would be implementing a 30-day "educational phase" for motorists adapting to the new regulation.
The driver of the hearse was let off with a warning. Violators are subject to up to $250 in fines.