Q At the end of a recent column, you agreed with a reader suggesting a tourist could use a relative's FasTrak in a rental car. Unless FasTrak has changed their policy, this will not work. A couple years ago I tried to use my FasTrak in a friend's car that didn't have one. It was a mess. I got billed and my friend got one of those "you didn't pay" letters from FasTrak since the transponder and the license plate didn't match. I think they do not allow sharing between cars because it might somehow contribute to fraud.
A But they do. Read on.
Q Three years ago my sister used my transponder in her car for the Bay Bridge. She received a ticket in the mail. Could be that my transponder wasn't working correctly (my tolls would have been charged appropriately based on my license plate number). This may be an exception, and I'm sure I'm not the only commentator on this topic.
A You most definitely are not.
Q In regards to the question about loaning someone else your transponder, I have no doubt that John-the-MTC-Bridge-Man knows what he's talking about when he says it's OK to do so. However, that assumes that both the transponder and the reader at the tollbooth are working correctly.
A That it does.
Q If for some reason there is a problem with either one, a photo is taken as you pass through the tollbooth. The license plate is then matched with FasTrak's database, and if the plate is not in the database, a bill and violation notice is sent.
I know this because a few years back, when my wife got a new car, we passed through a tollbooth with our transponder, which was not read properly. We later got a "pay or else" notice in the mail. That's when we realized we needed to register the new license plate with FasTrak and take the old plate off our account.
A It is OK to lend your FasTrak transponder to someone else, but problems can occur if the transponder is not read properly for a variety of reasons -- cheating, a dead battery in the transponder, forgetting the toll tag, equipment problems, etc.
When you loan your tag to someone who is not a FasTrak customer, a tag that does not get read cannot be matched to anything, and the driver will then receive a violation notice.
Q If FasTrak can be loaned for use in another vehicle on state bridges, what about the toll express lanes where FasTrak is used?
A This is OK, as no cameras are in use on express lanes. That will change in a few years, but for now with no cameras there is no way to detect who owns a transponder.
Q I drive from the Vallejo area to the Pinole/Richmond area three to four times a week during the late morning hours. I notice many drivers confuse the Interstate 80 number sign with the speed-limit sign. Does the CHP have an educational program planned, including black and white cars with flashing red lights, to help drivers understand the difference between the two signs? I spend as much time looking in my rearview mirror as I do looking ahead. At times I-80 westbound between Crockett and Pinole looks like the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway!
I will wait for another day to discuss the number of single passenger cars in the HOV lane eastbound in the afternoons.
A True story. A few years, two French tourists were racing down Highway 101 through San Jose when they were stopped for speeding in excess of 100 mph. One of the perplexed tourists said he had studied American driving rules and knew that speed limit signs were black and white, and then proceeded to point out the 101 sign a few feet away. The laughing CHP officer had never heard that excuse and let them off with a warning to slow down.
Q Are you allowed to ride a motorcycle in the commuter lane if the sign doesn't say "Motorcycles OK"?