AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Toll cutters, or people who drive over flexible barricades into the express lane to get around traffic, are causing some major problems on Mopac.
“So it does put lives at risk when you do this and we certainly don't want anyone seriously injured or killed because of someone doing something irresponsible and driving over a double white line just to save some time,” said Steve Pustelnyk with the Mobility Authority.
Drivers said they see this happen more now than when the express lanes first opened.
The Mobility Authority doesn’t necessarily agree, but said if they do notice an increase in toll cutting they will take additional measures to stop it. “People who are cutting in the lane are essentially forcing us to make a decision, whether to try and enforce and perhaps cause other traffic issues in the corridor,” Pustelnyk said.
Installing new cameras to catch license plates of drivers who toll cut is on the table. Turning to police enforcement is another option, although not a popular one. “If it's rush hour and we have Austin police pulling over vehicles with lights flashing, that causes people to slow down and causes more traffic congestion,” said Pustelnyk.
Why not replace flexible barricades with something a little harder to cross?
The Mobility Authority said there just wasn't enough room for that. Not to mention, it would impact accessibility for first responders. “It limits access to the lane, both for emergency vehicles to get to incidents, as well as for law enforcement to divert vehicles out of the lane if there's an accident that blocks it,” Pustelnyk said.
Even flexible posts can cause minor damage to vehicles if they are hit at a high enough speed and, if police catch a toll cutter, the driver can face a $200 fine, but those consequences pale in comparison to what can happen when a car illegally enters the lane and catches another driver off guard.
“All it takes is one. One major crash, one fatality, is one too many,” said Pustelnyk.