Automated Vehicle Occupancy Verification Systems: Policy and Legal Implications

Managed lanes require effective vehicle occupancy enforcement policies and programs to operate successfully. Several semi- and fully automated techniques for determining the number of persons in a moving vehicle, including operator-monitored video cameras and infrared composite imaging, have undergone limited field testing. The technical merits of invehicle and roadside systems for automated vehicle occupancy verification systems have been examined extensively. This paper complements those efforts by providing the policy and legal implications of automated
systems for occupancy enforcement. The primary form of automated enforcement technology currently used in the United States is photographic imagery recorded by automated violation detection systems. For moving violations, these systems almost exclusively take the form of red light and speed enforcement, unlike toll evasion, which is typically punishable as an infraction. Principal objections to automated enforcement for occupancy purposes have involved privacy and due process concerns. Under an automated occupancy enforcement tool, the occupancy enforcement regime would likely face the same legal and privacy challenges as automated enforcement cameras and similar devices. This paper examines the current legislation related to automated enforcement practices, as well as an illustration of the arguments against their use. These arguments raise questions about the legality of automated enforcement systems and the perceived invasion of privacy some drivers may associate with such systems. The three primary privacy issues associated with an automated system for occupancy enforcement concern the photographic record of occupants, vehicle infrastructure integration barriers, and the legal definition of a high-occupancy vehicle infraction.


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