A large number of E-Zpass
toll-collection tags are failing in the Philadelphia area, affecting
at least 1,300 drivers each month, according to the Philadelphia
Inquirer. The culprit is some digital wireless telephones that
activate the tags, draining the life out of their batteries.
Some batteries, designed
to last 10 years, reportedly are going bad after one year. The
tag maker, Mark IV IVHS Inc., says tags used when the system was
brought into the area three years ago were designed to respond
to a wide range of frequencies and caused the problem. The tag
maker says the problem has since been fixed.
All tags shipped from the
factory since last summer reportedly are designed to filter out
cell-phone signals. And only certain models of AT&T Wireless
telephones are believed to cause the trouble with the old tags.
The cell-phone problem
appears limited to 1800-megahertz cell phones, using what is called
TDMA technology. When an E-ZPass tag fails, the driver gets a
warning signal at toll plazas and must call the issuing agency
to avoid a stiff fine and have the tag replaced.
The cell phone interference
does not increase the toll bills of E-ZPass users. It just drains
The Pennsylvania Turnpike
Authority, which has issued 230,000 tags, is replacing about 1,000
tags monthly because batteries have failed. The Delaware River
Port Authority, which has issued 200,000 tags, is replacing about
300 a month.