June 12, 2008 / 4:04 PM / 12 years ago

Drivers turn to blow-up dolls to beat traffic rules

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Drivers in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland are turning to inflatable passengers to try and beat transit lane rules.

Blow-up dolls, shop mannequins and dogs dressed up as children have all been used to try and justify driving in lanes where vehicles are required to have at least three occupants.

“There were some odd people that tried these antics,” North Shore city council traffic safety manager Andre Dannhauser told Reuters.

Drivers caught trying to beat the system are fined NZ$150

($114).

Enforcement officers taking pictures of offending cars in transit lanes have been treated to a wide range of excuses from caught-out motorists, Dannhauser said.

“The most common one is the imaginary passengers they claim we couldn’t see because they were so small,” Dannhauser said.

For a while some enterprising students charged a small fee to get driven past the enforcement officers, before running back up the road to repeat the trick. “The money they generated from that was not enough to pay for the beer for the thirst they generated,” Dannhauser said. (NZ$1=$1.32)

Reporting by Adrian Bathgate; Editing by Alex Richardson

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