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Urban myth along the Thruway?

    Those suspicious of government have never looked kindly upon EZ-Pass, the program drivers can use on the Thruway and other highways and bridges to have tolls automatically deducted from an account via a signal that bounces off a device mounted on the driver’s windshield.

    So the Big Brother conspiracy theories have run amok the past week or so since a mysterious e-mail began spreading that the state had secretly begun a pilot program north of Albany to use the EZ-Pass system to catch speeders.

    "Recording devices were installed at intervals along the highway.  Once an (EZ-Pass) equipped vehicle passes, the device registers the account number and the time. Same is again registered at the next 'check-point.' Based upon the distance between the register points and the posted speed limit, the state is sending speeding tickets in the mail to the guilty persons," the e-mail, which has found its way into the hands of state officials, reporters and lobbyists. It even goes on to say special chips will soon be placed in new registration stickers to do the same task.

    No so, insists the state. In a rare case of responding to a rumor spread over the internet, the state Thruway Authority and Transportation Department have joined forces to shoot down the claims.

For starters, industry officials say, state law requires an observation or radar by a police officer of an infraction.

    "While the (Thruway) Authority accepts E-Z Pass as an electronic form of payment for tolls along the Thruway, current law in New York does not permit the enforcement of Vehicle and Traffic Law speed violations through the use of E-Z Pass. The Authority and State Police Troop T do not use E-Z Pass to enforce the Vehicle and Traffic Law along the Thruway," a statement by the agencies states.

"Similarly, officials at DOT and State Police do not use E-Z Pass to enforce the Vehicle and Traffic Law in New York State, on New York State roads, highways or interstates," a release from the agencies, which was provided by an industry lobbyist, added.

--Tom Precious

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