Live Life in the Fast Lane Thanks to an Electronic Toll Collection System
August 14, 2014
Are you one of the approximately 24 million drivers who zips through toll booths every day using your E-ZPass? (FYI: More than 880,000 drivers traveled through Delaware’s three toll plazas alone over the July 4th weekend!) If so, you know that E-ZPass systems and others like it across the country save time and money. Most offer a toll discount or commuter plan savings, plus they help you save gas by avoiding idling in the cash lines. Of course the less time you spend breathing in all those exhaust fumes, the better, too.
The E-ZPass electronic toll-collection system is one of the largest and is used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the northeastern United States, south to North Carolina, and west to Illinois. Twenty-five agencies throughout 14 states comprise the E-ZPass Interagency Group (IAG).
Other electronic toll collection systems are located in California (FasTrak), Michigan (Nexpress Toll), Florida (SunPass), and Texas (TxTAG) to name a few. These agencies all use the same technology so drivers are able to use their E-ZPass as they travel on any of the toll roads within the entire IAG network.
Each of these toll collection systems use a transponder mounted on the inside of the windshield of your car which is activated by an antenna when you reach the toll booth area. The transponder (battery-operated, radio frequency identification – RFID – unit that transmits radio signals) has all your account information stored on it.
The history of RFID technology has its roots in World War II. Essentially, the ability to pass an active signal between two points was the premise behind the emerging technology in the 1930s and 1940s. It was in 1973, when the first U.S. patent was issued to Mario Cardullo for an active RFID tag with a “rewritable memory.”
For the electronic toll tags, Antennas, or electronic readers, are positioned above each toll lane. These antennas emit radio frequencies that are picked up by the transponder. The transponder and the antenna interact: the antenna identifies your transponder and reads your account information so the amount of the toll is automatically deducted and you're allowed to continue on your way.
The RFID industry continues to evolve from its wartime roots. RFID manufacturers are highly competitive; they all want to sell the cheapest, smallest and most reliable RFID device – not just for collecting tolls, but also with applications for any industries that track products and goods as they’re in production or in storage.
And Keystone Electronics is doing its part to help with that. Today, you can find Coin Cell Battery retainers and Contacts, USB Plugs and Sockets, and Test Points manufactured by Keystone Electronics in most RFID tags. We’re proud to be part of this interesting technology and in a small way, we’re happy to be assisting in the movement of people and goods via this technology and the various transportation routes utilizing the tags.