The Expansion of the High Speed E-ZPass Is Changing the Way We Travel

There once was a time when, upon merging onto a private road, you had to stop at the toll booth, fish around your car for loose change, and physically hand over your money to a toll booth attendant to be let onto the toll road. OK, while those days are still here, more and more are whizzing right through the toll station thanks to the E-ZPass, the wireless technology that has replaced the need for physical currency at its locations.

The E-ZPass has made life a lot easier for those who make use of the private freeways where it’s used. And with the pass being adopted by more roads in more states across the country, along with the improving technology itself, it’s exciting to think about how it could go on to change the way we travel.

Quicker Tolls and Quicker Traffic, Wherever You Go

Let’s start with the most immediate benefit of the E-ZPass: quicker travel. The traditional toll booth experience only takes a few seconds–you wait for a few cars in front of you, pull up to the window, hand over your change–so it might seem that replacing this method won’t do much for traffic. But when multiplying the few seconds saved by the number of drivers on the road, the time saved and the bottlenecks avoided each day are enormous.

Not convinced that widespread adoption will have much effect on travel congestion? Consider this: in a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, automatic tolls were found to reduce birth effects in the area due to lowered pollution. This goes to show that, while it might not be apparent, the E-ZPass does reduce traffic. So, if you’re taking a trip across the state, or across the country, that time saved could really add up.

Better Inner-City Traffic Management

The E-ZPass is meant, first and foremost, for getting people onto toll roads quicker, but that isn’t the only way it can be used. There are other ways the E-ZPass could help drivers, and it has to do with the technology of the pass itself. The pass, which communicates wirelessly with communicators at toll locations, doesn’t have to used only to get people to pay their tolls. It can also be used–and in fact, is being used–to monitor traffic in cities.  

As one hacker found, the E-ZPass has been used in downtown New York City, where there definitely aren’t any toll booths. It turns out that city management services can use the passes to monitor traffic, providing insight into ways they can ease congestion. While some may decry this use of the pass as a violation of privacy, it should be noted that the data is anonymous, and if it’s being used to help city traffic jams, can you really complain? Expansion of the E-ZPass into other metro areas could make it so that not only are your long distance commutes quicker, but those short trips across town are better, too.

The E-ZPass has saved a lot of people a lot time, but this isn’t to say that it’s going to solve all the problems we run into on the road. In fact, people have a lot to complain about when it comes to E-ZPass. But, hopefully, as the technology spreads, it improves, making our commutes quicker, easier, and healthier.

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