Illinois is experimenting with some new tolling methods that would allow drivers to pay for tolls using their smartphones. This testing is still in the very early stages, with no planned rollout at this time.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Tollway officials approved construction of a test zone along the southbound Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) that will use regular drivers and conditions to improve existing equipment and experiment with new types of I-PASS transponders that instantly confirm toll payments.
Aside from new overhead gantries near the Touhy Avenue Toll Plaza, motorists won’t see anything different, Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said.
“This will allow us to be able to implement new technology with minimum disruption to our customers in all weather conditions,” Lafleur said. “Our customers will benefit from having a seamless integration of new technology on the Tollway.”
The Tollway will post signs on the gantries to remind motorists they are going through the test zone and not another toll plaza.
Residents of Illinois might wonder how this could possibly work with Illinois’ laws banning cell phone use while driving, and I’m certainly in that same boat. The law is pretty clear as it pertains to handheld device usage (i.e. cell phones).
From Drivinglaws.org –
As of January 1, 2014, a new law in Illinois bans the use of all hand-held devices while driving in Illinois. Only hands-free technology such as speakerphones, bluetooth, and headsets are pemitted. In addition: (1) all cell phone use is prohibited while driving in a school zone; (2) all cell phone use is prohibited while driving in a highway construction zone, and (3) all cell phone use is prohibited if you are a novice driver. All Illinois drivers are prohibited from texting.
Highways in Illinois are under construction roughly 75% of the time. The other 25% we’re usually buried in snow. I’m not sure how the Tollway Authority thinks that we’ll be able to legally/safely use our smartphones to pay tolls. The goal of this testing is to maximize revenue while decreasing operating costs. I suppose they could really maximize their revenue by having police waiting on the other side of the toll booth, pulling drivers over for cell phone use immediately after they pay their toll. Or if they want to decrease operating costs even further, simply issue a ticket instantly to anybody using this system to pay their tolls.
Or, I guess we could believe the tollway’s chief of business systems, who says that they’d like to leverage smartphones’ GPS systems to determine how far a motorist has driven, and what tolls should be paid. It IS Illinois though, so it could probably go either way.
Featured image courtesy Huffington Post.