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E-Z Pass Will Be Used to Catch Speeders in WNY?

What’s an urban legend? You hear about the wealthy bachelor who fell asleep in his hot bubbling hot tub after his Friday night party guests left and the cleaning maid found only bones and soup left of him a couple days later. Then there’s the one about the girl whose tanning booth had a microwave short circuit and fried her insides. They’re all pretty interesting.
Well, some of these tales are believable and some are unbelievable. About a month ago you may have started receiving warning emails from friends suggesting that NY State intends to use the EZ Pass system to catch speeders. This urban legend has been making speedy headway on the web. It’s a pretty credible and yet incredible story, too, that reads as follows:
“New York State started a pilot program upstate north of Albany on the Northway to catch speeders using the Easy Pass system. Recording devices were installed at intervals along the highway. Once an Easy Pass equipped vehicle passes, the device registers the account number and the time. Same is again registered at the next “check-point”. Based upon the distance between the register points and the posted speed limit, the state is sending speeding tickets in the mail to the guilty persons.
Because every driver does not have Easy Pass, the State is “perplexed” as what to do to impose the system state-wide. The solution has been found. Soon all new vehicle registration stickers will have a metal strip or chip imbedded in same. This will take the place of the Easy Pass system as stated above. When a vehicle passes the registering device, the strip will relay all the information.
This is not fictional. New York State contracted with VERIZON to install the system. The system has already been installed and the entire Bronx River Parkway in Westchester County has been “wired” for when the new system begins. Once the State makes the new program public and advises all motorists of the potential for numerous speeding tickets, it will also reveal that the system has already been installed.
Another reason that will be given for the new system is to enable the authorities to track stolen vehicles, to trace kidnap victims, to monitor and trace suspected criminals and terrorists, etc.
BIG BROTHER IS ALIVE AND WELL. Pass this along to every one you know.”
THat’s pretty scary, if you think about it. Now there’s just one thing about this story that should be emphasized: it is a total falsehood—-merely an urban legend. A simple check on google to or the better known Snopes clears up the story well.
Here’s’s answer to the story: “False. The New York Thruway Authority says the state has no plans to use the E-Z Pass system to calculate how fast drivers are going or issue speeding tickets, according to a story published November 5, 2007 in the Post-Standard of Syracuse.
Excerpts from a joint statement by the Thruway Authority and New York State Police appeared on the Politics Now blog on the Buffalo News Website:
“While the (Thruway) Authority accepts E-Z Pass as an electronic form of payment for tolls along the Thruway, current law in New York does not permit the enforcement of Vehicle and Traffic Law speed violations through the use of E-Z Pass. The Authority and State Police Troop T do not use E-Z Pass to enforce the Vehicle and Traffic Law along the Thruway,” a statement by the agencies states.
“Similarly, officials at DOT and State Police do not use E-Z Pass to enforce the Vehicle and Traffic Law in New York State, on New York State roads, highways or interstates,” a release from the agencies, which was provided by an industry lobbyist, added.
The misinformation may have been inspired by news of the October 9, 2007 launch in Nassau and Suffolk counties of an actual pilot program using point-to-point monitoring of E-Z Pass-equipped vehicles on the Northern Parkway to collect data on traffic flow and calculate average travel times for display along the route.
While this did involve installing what one might call “recording devices” (RFID interrogators) at intervals on the parkway to track individual vehicles, DOT officials say all data is encrypted to protect the privacy of owners/drivers. “
Phew! Now we can all rest at the wheel! So what’s your favorite Buffalo urban legend story?

Written by Bill Zimmermann

Bill Zimmermann

Bill runs Seven Seas Sailing school, and is a staunch waterfront activist. He is also heavily involved with preserving, maintaining, and promoting the South Buffalo Lighthouse. When Bill first started writing for Buffalo Rising, he wrote an article a day for 365 days - each article coincided with a significant historic event that happened in Buffalo on that same day.

View All Articles by Bill Zimmermann
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