your connection to The Boston Globe

N.H. warns E-ZPass users not to wave transponders

DERRY, N.H. -- The state Department of Transportation wants turnpike drivers to stop waving E-ZPass transponders.

After observing a third of E-ZPass users holding and waving their transponders , toll plaza attendants posted signs: "Transponder Waving Causes Violations."

E-ZPass transponders should be attached to car windshields so they can be electronically read. Drivers who treat transponders like hand-held devices, waving them as they drive through the tolls , are risking their safety , said Bill Boynton, Transportation Department spokesman.

Readers often cannot recognize transponders that are not fixed to a stationary point, Boynton said. That means transponder wavers sometimes are not charged as they drive through the tolls. Toll evaders in the cash lane face up to a $144 fine, but E-ZPass users who go through without paying are subject only to a $25 administrative fee.

Linda Cate, a supervisor at the Bedford tolls, said she has seen drivers stop in the E-ZPass lane, get out of their cars, and wave their transponders to try to get a reading.

"They could be hit by a car," Cate said.

Boynton said he doubts most transponder wavers do it to intentionally avoid paying the toll. Some still do not have the hang of the program, which has been around for only two years, he said, and others do not like how the transponders look on their windshields or simply forget to put them in their new cars.

New Hampshire's E-ZPass program has grown to 180,000 accounts since the program began; today more than 50 percent of cars passing through the state's tolls use E-ZPass.

New Hampshire collected $80 million in cash and electronic toll payments in 2006.