Police: No, a corpse doesn't count toward the HOV lane passenger minimum

On Monday, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka pulled over a minivan in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane because nobody else was visible inside except for the driver. Turns out, the driver works for a funeral home and was transporting a body. From the Reno Gazette Journal:

"He immediately tells me he's got the remains of a person in the vehicle behind him, so I kind of glanced in the back and confirmed that,” Smaka said of what he saw in the cargo area – a bodybag strapped to a gurney. “It kind of threw me off a little bit, and then he just made the funny remark, something along the lines of, 'So he won't count?'.."

Nevada's HOV rules do not clarify whether an occupant must be breathing and leans on federal law, which is not much clearer....

An official with the Federal Highway Administration said it is up to individual states to define what an occupant is – and referred the USA Today Network to the Nevada Department of Transportation for additional information.

“When you talk about high occupancy vehicle lanes, you’re talking about seats – so a person would need to occupy a seat to qualify,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Buratczuk. “This person was obviously a decedent and in the cargo area of the car, so they would not qualify for the HOV lane.”

The officer let the driver off with a warning.

image: SounderBruce/CC BY-SA 4.0