Saturday, July 7, 2007

Accident-prone Spots: ERP Gantries

Last July, I was already in town when I drove to Orchard passing the Dhoby Ghaut ERP gantry. I was less than ten metres from the gantry when I realized that it was in operations and I did not have my cashcard inserted in the IU. My immediate thought is to slow down and insert my cashcard but did not do so as I had read sometime ago that a fatal accident had occurred due to a sudden braking by a motorist at one ERP gantry. Although I checked my rear view mirror thereafter and found that there was no vehicle trailing my car, it was a right decision not to risk my fellow motorist and my life. So what is the penalty for non-payment of ERP charge?

Motorists who pass through an operational ERP gantry without a properly-inserted CashCard in the IU, or one with insufficient monetary value in the CashCard to pay the ERP charges, will receive a letter within a few days of the violation requesting them to pay the outstanding ERP charge plus an administrative fee of $10, within two weeks from the date of the letter. The administrative fee is reduced to $8 if payment is made electronically via OneMotoring website, AXS, SAM, vPost, ATM, Phone and Internet Banking.

I received the summon from LTA promptly within 5 days and was convinced that the technology works very well and it is a well-oiled process for LTA to penalize forgetful motorists.

I understand the rationale for using Cashcard in the IU since the metaphor is similar to paying cash on the spot of usage ie. we know that we pay for the ERP charge as the IU sounds a beep before showing the balance on the display. We can also use a Cashcard reader to check the past transactions on the card. However, there is no alternative for motorists who prefer electronic payment. A registered post-paid card with a deposited sum of security and approved automatic electronic payment can certainly put the minds of the forgetful motorists at ease. In the event of theft, the post-paid card can be cancelled as soon as possible to minimize loss but then again, it is worthless to the thief since the sensor identifies the IU that holds the card. Investigation into transaction disputes is straight forward since the data exists for evidence. However, the privacy issue would be major concern as you can easily piece together one’s vehicular movement with all that data.

If you have not know prior about the penalty, please be conscious that it is just a $8-10 fine versus trying to beat the odds of causing an accident and perhaps that change in decision may also prevent the loss of lives. The strange thing is that you cannot count the near misses but it is a life-changing event when a serious accident occurs …. think about that and reflect on your near-misses …. I hope you have improve your driving habit after those near-misses.

(Originally posted on WordPress blog on April 17, 2007)