In case you haven’t noticed while driving along the highways of South Florida, there are more and more SunPass lanes. SunPass lanes permit cars to bypass the tollbooths by allowing the driver to pay his tolls electronically through the use of transponder. Instead of stopping and paying cash at the toll booths, cars equipped with the SunPass transponder can simply proceed through the SunPass lane. The SunPass transponder can be purchased through the State of Florida or at various retail stores and the tolls are paid through a SunPass account.
Because of the success of Florida’s SunPass program, the Sunshine State Turnpike will no longer be collecting cash from drivers at toll booths along the Homestead Extention which runs 47 miles from Miramar to Florida City.
Drivers on the Homestead Extention will pay with their SunPass, or will be billed later, based on photographs of their license plate taken from remote cameras. This is the first step in a plan by the state to convert the Florida’s turnpike system to a cashless toll road through the use of the SunPass System. The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority did this with the Gratigny Parkway, Don Shula Expressway and Snapper Creek Expressway.
In addition to the savings involved in not having workers collect cash at toll booths, not to mention the traffic delays caused by the stopping and the lines of cars at the toll booths,collecting the tolls electronically is much safer.
The National Transportation Safety Board in 2006 has recommend that toll plazas nationwide to be revamped with all-electronic tolling to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions at toll plazas with a mix of cash and electronic lanes. A staffed toll booth can process about 350 vehicles per hour. A SunPass lane where drivers merely slow to 25 mph can can handle to 1,600 vehicles per hour. Open road tolling, with no gates, barriers or booths, can handle up to 2,200 vehicles per hour.
Welcome to the 21st Century! Along with hands free cell phones equipped in most new cars, technology is reducing the need for drivers to stop at toll plazas. Because of the high rate of speed on South Florida’s highways, serious rear-end accidents frequently occur where cars are backed up and an inattentive driver is approaching the toll plaza. It is not to difficult to imagine what can happened to the occupants of a car when is rear-ended at 35 mphs by a driver who is not paying attention when he approaches a toll plaza.
The transition from having cars stop to pay cash at a toll both to paying toll electronically while continuing to drive, is a welcome change which makes Florida’s highways safer for everybody.
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