the road pricing dilemma” href=””>Brian Micklethwait has a very long post on the privacy implications of road toll collections. I shall refrain from any Lawrence v. Texas jokes, but feel free to think up some.

I must say, I’m willing to trade privacy for convenience on this one. In my area, we use a system called Smart Tag to automatically scan when one drives through toll boths, which is very handy if one takes the toll road often. In this case, it charges a certain amount to a credit card and then automatically replenishes the account when it gets low. Beats having to keep a bunch of quarters in the car.

(Hat tip: Chris Lawrence, whose Signifying Nothing has a bold new look)

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. …something about a Hershey Highway…

  2. Fred says:

    Would it not be easier to sell prepaid smart tags too?

    Privacy AND convienience.


  3. James Joyner says:

    Fred–Probably so, although you would sacrifice a lot of convenience, as there’d have to be a system to let you know when you’re about to run out and then you’d have to run to the store to get another one. Better than carrying quarters around, but only somewhat.

  4. jen says:

    The other perk of the SmartTag is that users get a small discount during rush hour. At least you used to. I think it was 10 cents off per toll plaza.

  5. Fred says:

    Mr. Joyner,

    I don;t see the problem, I have the unfortunate reality of living in New York city, I buy a subway pass for 20$ and it deducts as I swipe, surely some smilar, little widget on my dashboard with an RF and LCD screen, could let me know how much is left.

    Oh and the cards would be sold in trips, not in round $ and the LCD flash after the last one is used.

    There is no technical or economical reason not to do it, it’s a control thing.