You can run, Express Lane cheaters. But you can't hide

Friday , March 09, 2018 - 4:30 AM2 comments

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

So, to borrow a line from Liam Neeson in “Taken,” if you violate the Express Lane, UDOT will find you. And it will bill you.

Senate Bill 71, approved last week by the Legislature, allows the Utah Department of Transportation to employ traffic cameras, license plate readers and additional technology to identify drivers who abuse the Express Lanes on Interstate 15.

Lawmakers had little choice. I-15 is becoming a parking lot at rush hour.

  • RELATED: “Bill would allow cameras, other tech to catch Express Lane carpool cheaters”

Utah allows motorists who carpool to use Express Lanes, which run along the side of I-15 in seven segments between Spanish Fork and Layton. Buses, motorcycles, clean-fuel vehicles can also travel in Express Lanes free of charge.

The idea is to encourage fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and keep traffic moving.

No matter what you drive, you can also take advantage of the Express Lanes by signing up for a state-supplied electronic payment system. An algorithm adjusts your cost based on traffic conditions. If traffic’s light, you pay less. If it’s rush hour, you pay more.

  • RELATED: “Express Lane rate hike approved by commission, proposal now goes to Legislature”

But some cheaters don’t pay anything, and that’s the problem.

They don’t carpool. They don’t drive fuel-efficient vehicles. They just see an opening and take it, figuring they’ll never get pulled over by the Utah Highway Patrol.

Just one problem — their presence is gumming up the Express Lanes, too. Now, as a result, UDOT is rolling out license plate readers and traffic cameras to catch violators.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, a Sandy Republican, sponsored SB 71.

“What this does is modernize the tolling statutes we have to effectively electronically toll and to have a means to be able to collect the toll,” Niederhauser testified before the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee.

Violators can be fined $337, and the ticket goes on your driving record. Utah will use your license plate number to send you a bill.

And you’d better pay it, or the state will place a hold on your vehicle registration.

Intrusive? Yes. Creepy? Sort of.

Necessary? Unfortunately, yes.

All because some Utah drivers won’t play by the rules.

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