Who’s Watching?

I was out early this morning to do my civic duty and I voted. Now, whether I had a hand in the alleged betterment or the probable complete dessimation of New Jersey remains to be seen.

Okay, on with today’s blog. I saw an item on the TV news the other morning and when I finally found it online to study it, I discovered it was already a few months old. As I read through the article however, it became clear that the recent mention on TV must have reflected the closing statement in the piece that said The South Jersey Transportation Authority is awaiting the results of a study on the proposal in the fall. Well, here it is, the fall. It concerns the Atlantic City Expressway. It’s not about the plans to widen the road, which there are, but there are also plans of taking down the toll booths. And not because they’re doing away with having to pay a toll to get to the casinos to lose even more money (or the shirt off your back in some cases). So, what does this mean? All lanes will become E-ZPass lanes.

But you don’t have E-ZPass? You don’t want E-ZPass? Never fear, you can still get to and from Atlantic City with the greatest of ease but you can expect to pay for it later. Besides the usual equipment perched high on armatures that stretch across the roadway to read the E-ZPass transponders, cameras will take pictures of license plates and a bill for highway usage will be generated and sent in the mail. Surprise!

Here’s an interesting aside, a quick fact about the Atlantic City Expressway. The 44-mile toll road, which was built in 1962 is officially numbered, although it is unsigned, as NJ State Highway 446.

Going back to the cameras and toll roads, given the fact that some the Interstates that run through New Jersey have been eyeballed as possible new deficit-decreasing toll roads. So now, if this technology is possible, to photograph license plates at highway speed (I’m assuming) on one certain highway, what’s to stop the construction of such other apparatuses and we get charged for driving around the state without the benefit of at least being able to watch our hard earned money disappear into toll booth baskets.

Which brings me to another sort of related story about cars and driving. It’s the thought that your car could be a tracking device. Cars of today come with a data recorder that is connected to a variety of sensors all around the car; inside and out. It can tell if a person is wearing a seatbelt, if the oil pressure is low and can deploy a car’s airbags in the event of a crash. But can the recorder track everyday car usage? According to a GM spokesman, it doesn’t track where you go or what street you are on, but in the event of an accident, the most recent data is “frozen” and that information is helpful in reconstructing the scene when settling insurance claims. Other than that, newly collected information is constantly overwriting what was there previously. Likewise it’s assured that OnStar, a GPS type of tracking device on GM cars, also does not “track” and individual until a call is placed through the system by a customer in despair whether of a tire blowout or a crash and is also useful in tracking down a reported stolen vehicle.

Of course there are external devices that can be put on your car to determine speed, direction and your every movement by way of video sensors all over the car, all with the idea of proving (or disproving) one’s innocence in a collision. And there is also a real-time tracking device, Inthinc’s Tiwi, parents of teens (or those with elderly parents) can use to actually monitor a car’s route and subsequently alert both driver and external viewer of an offense such as aggressive driving, accelerating or braking too hard and whether or not the seat belt is being worn and the notifications are put on the company’s database which is accessible either online or by telephone alerts.

But other innovations are sure to come, where, possibly someone would be able to know what you are wearing or what radio station you are listening to. Seems not that long ago one could simply turn the key in the ignition and head off to work or the grocery store and not give it a second thought and certainly and in the least, not be surreptitiously charged for it.

Happy motoring!

And here’s something to enjoy, which coincidentally goes with the driving theme today. Everyone should be so conscientious.  (click anywhere on the picture below)


drunk driving call



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One Response to “Who’s Watching?”

  1. Melissa Says:

    I’m scared … of being watched!!!!

    Besides that, I’m dang mad at the ridiculousness of the “toll stuff.” Does it not cost MORE money to equip the roads of NJ with high-tech equipment?? And manufacture and distribute the EZ Pass devices to all the drivers of NJ?? And to spend time tracking who’s driving where and didn’t have EZ Pass and mailing the corresponding bill? And even though “machines” will be doing most of the work, I’m sure it still takes manpower to mail out the bills and service the EZ Pass equipment to make sure it is working properly, etc. Why don’t they just get rid of the tolls???? Save the money! Save the hassle! Save time! Save the insanity!

    I will leave with these 2 questions:
    1. Has the State of NJ published or put out there any kind of data to show how the money collected from tolls actually benefits the state? Where is the money going? What is the impact of the toll money? Who is being helped by it?

    2. If everyone would be required to have EZ Pass (and otherwise be sent a bill for not having it), what is to be done with travelers? Visitors who do not live in NJ? Will they be issued EZ Pass at the state line? Or will they just be treated as rebellious wrong-doers and consequently be fined for their naughy behavior?

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