New Cameras Nab Toll Scofflaws
The Harris County (Texas) Toll Road Authority is successfully using four high-tech surveillance cameras to catch drivers who repeatedly evade paying tolls while using the county’s EZ Tag toll lanes.
The camera system uses special software that has been programmed to react when it identifies the license plates of any of the top 500 non-paying drivers, some of whom have evaded paying as much as $30,000 in tolls.
The surveillance cameras used by most toll roads simply take pictures of vehicles that fail to pay when entering a toll lane, allowing local officials to mail tickets to the offenders.
However, the Harris County system also sends real-time alerts to a police dispatcher when it recognizes the license plates of any of the top 500 non-paying drivers. The dispatcher then calls a nearby police officer who pulls over the offending car, arrests the driver, and tows his or her vehicle.
A spokesman for the police force that patrols the toll roads explains, “We put them in jail. If they owe a lot of money, we don’t write them a ticket.”
The toll authority, which has used the system to catch eight of the top 500 scofflaws since August, plans to have a total of 24 of the $28,000 surveillance cameras in place by the beginning of the new year.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Houston Chronicle (12/18/06); Grant, Alexis.