Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"We're basically entering in all the data from everybody traveling the new toll roads."

Cameras Capturing License Plates On Toll Roads

Nov 29, 2006

KXAN NBC (Austin, TX)
Copyright 2006

People who are driving on sections of the new roadways are being photographed. Most don't even know it.

A TxDOT contractor is taking pictures of your license plate and using that information to build a database of every driver on the road. It's got some people upset.

There are cameras along 45 taking pictures of every car's license plate We can understand photographing violators who aren't paying the tolls, but the roads are still free, and yet every driver is being tracked on camera.

We did some digging and found an employment ad seeking 57 image review clerks being hired by a contractor for TxDOT. It reads, "the position must perform accurate data entry of license plates from images into databases."

We found one of the people who was hired to do this work. He didn't want his identity revealed. He told us his quota was 4,000 license plates entered into the database everyday. It seemed high so he asked his supervisor.

"She said, 'Well no, we're not doing violations right now. We're basically entering in all the data from everybody traveling the new toll roads." Which sort of threw me back because at that point I thought I was going to be handling violations," the image review clerk said.

To get to the bottom of it, we went right to the source and talked to Gabriela Garcia at the Toll Road Authority. She says because the tolls are not being collected yet, the equipment is simply being tested. The photographs will be used to enforce people who blow through the toll booths without paying.

"There could be some of that going on now. I'm not sure how much of that's happening on which roads and how many of the vehicles are actually being photographed. It's not being sold to anybody or anybody else for any other purpose other than toll enforcement purposes only," Garcia said.

Garcia told KXAN in a second interview that any photographs taken and information gathered on people that are not violating the tolls will be deleted, and no records will be kept.

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