Illinois Tollway gives access online to violations pics to speed dispute resolution (ADDITIONS)

April 26, 2011

The Illinois Tollway is allowing motorists receiving violation notices to access the camera images of the violation online. This is part of a new process to make it easier for motorists to challenge violation notices.

The new feature announced by the Turnpike Monday allows customers to view the license plate images associated with toll violation notices online, select from two dispute options and file their response with a click.

On the 'Unpaid Tolls & Violations' page of the Tollway website motorists need to provide their violation notice number and vehicle license plate to enter the database. Customers can dispute the assessment by asserting the plate number is incorrectly read, or that the image available doesn't support the assessment.

In cases where there is no image associated with the violation notice they can appeal by hitting "Missing Image."

They get an automatic email acknowledging receipt of their challenge to the notice - what is termed a 'dispute.'

Each dispute is reviewed by Tollway staff, and when a decision has been made an email is sent to the challenger.

The new online dispute challenge feature went up in March without any official announcement to test how it worked and make any needed adjustments.

Stealthy introduction

The Tollway says to date 900 customers have viewed some 3,000 license plate images on which Unpaid Toll & Violation notice were based. Just under 40 challenges have been filed.

When a customer chooses not to challenge a notice they can pay online with a bankcard.

Illinois Tollway executive director Kristi Lafleur is quoted: "This new feature is a big step forward for us in terms of enhancing customer service. If a customer drives through our toll plazas and receives a violation notice, they have a right to know that the image captured of their vehicle is accurate.

"We also believe that it's important to show our customers that we are transparent and above board in the way the Tollway conducts its business. Providing access to these images and making it easier to dispute violations is an important part of that."

The Illinois Tollway network has open road highway speed electronic tolling (ORT) through all 22 their mainline toll plazas with cash toll booths to the sides.  With three and four travel lanes in one direction n sections of the system it is often difficult for motorists traveling in the left lanes to get over to the right to pay cash at the rightside toll booths.

Or customers miss the signs and sail through the ORT lanes.

So the Tollway gets considerable numbers of motorists without transponders going through the ORT lanes and generating camera images of the license plates for the unpaid toll.

Customers who drive through toll plazas without paying cash, using inactive transponders or using out-of-date I-PASS and E-ZPass accounts have their license plates photographed from cameras mounted on the ORT gantries.

If a customer is sent three violations within a two-year period, a notice is generated that includes one of the captured images so that the customer can see that their vehicle was photographed in the ORT lane.

Previously license plate images were only available by mail, email or in person at the Tollway offices.

Online access to the violation images is intended as a convenience to motorists and a saving of staff time resolving disputes.

see the dispute page,1407951&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

ADDITION: Last year the Illinois Tollway did 817m toll transactions which generated 11.6m violation notices. Just under 35k were dismissed after challenge by motorists as getting the incorrect plate or a bad camera image. In percentage terms that means violations represented 1.4% of transactions and of those violations 0.3% could not be sustained on challenge.

Contractors who deserve a credit for the new dispute handling features at the Tollway are Unisys and SDI.

Joelle McGinnis, spokesman there, says they are not aware of any other toller who offers access to license plate images. So they seem to be a first.

TOLLROADSnews 2011-04-26 ADDITION 2011-04-28 10:20

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