N.H. DOT to drivers: Stop waving E-ZPass devices


DERRY, N.H. (AP) – The state Department of Transportation has a message to turnpike drivers: Stop waving those E-ZPass transponders!

After observing a third of E-ZPass users holding and waving their transponders back and forth, toll plaza attendants posted new signs: “Transponder Waving Causes Violations.”

Properly used, E-ZPass transponders are attached to car windshields so they can be electronically read. Drivers who treat transponders like hand-held devices, waving them to and fro as they drive through the tolls, cause a couple of problems, said Transportation Department spokesman Bill Boynton.

First, transponder readers often can’t recognize transponders that aren’t fixed to a stationary point on a windshield, Boynton said. That means transponder wavers sometimes aren’t getting charged as they drive through. Although toll evaders in the cash lane face up to a $144 fine, E-ZPass users who get through without paying only are subject to a $25 administrative fee.

But Boynton said there’s a more serious reason not to wave those transponders. That’s the second problem: If a driver is holding a transponder in one hand, that means there’s only one had on the steering wheel, and that’s dangerous.

Linda Cate, a supervisor at the Bedford tolls, says she has even seen drivers stop in the E-ZPass lane, get out of their cars and wave their transponders in the air to try to get a reading.

That’s not safe, Cate said.

“They could be hit by a car,” she said.

Boynton said he doubts most transponder wavers do it to intentionally avoid paying the toll.

Some still haven’t got the hang of the program that has only been around for two years; some people don’t like the look of transponders attached to their windshields and others just forget to attach them when they buy a new car, he said.

“To guarantee the accuracy of transponder activity, we have to be sure that it is done correctly,” Boynton said.

New Hampshire’s E-ZPass program has grown to 180,000 accounts since the program began; today more than 50 percent of cars passing through the state’s tolls use E-ZPass. New Hampshire collected $80 million in cash and electronic toll payments in 2006.

Information from: Eagle Tribune, http://www.eagletribune.com

AP-ES-07-21-07 1317EDT