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4/30/2008
Texas: Electronic Toll Road Creates Danger
Videos document safety hazard caused by electronic toll roads in Texas.

EZ tag lane
Electronic toll roads in Texas are confusing motorists and causing significant safety hazards. Old-fashioned cash toll booths are already known to increase the risk of accidents, but videotape from Harris County toll road officials documents how electronic alternatives create dangers of their own.

KTRK-TV in Houston reported on several cases where EZ Tag toll transponder users were confused by the multiple signs directing motorists variously into "Full Service" or "EZ tag" or "Exact Change" lanes. Each lane also used a set of lights to indicate whether it was open or closed. Instead of attempting to process all of the visual information at speed, some drivers just froze in the middle of the road.

"That's like stopping on I-10 in the fast lanes during rush hour and getting out and walking around your vehicle, it's dangerous," Harris County Precinct One Constable's Office Lieutenant Jeff Cook told KTRK.

Others dangerously swerved out of an incorrect lane into the proper lane, while some even attempted to back out of the EZ Tag lanes. The consequences of such incidents can be fatal. In January, a three-year old was killed after a county constable rear-ended a confused driver on the toll road.

At times, the confusion is not even the motorist's fault. Grahame Taylor found last June that his EZ Tag toll transponder failed to work at entrance or exit ramps on the Sam Houston Tollway.

"It doesn't appear that they have researched the rollout of this program very well," Taylor told KRIV-TV. "In fact, it looks like they're using their customer base to troubleshoot the program."

View video of Grahame Taylor interview.

Source: Harris County tollway mistakes caught on tape (KTRK-TV (TX), 4/28/2008)

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