I've been on a bit of a pet peeve rant lately. First, it was about four-way stops, then shopping cart corrals. So if you'll indulge me once again, I'd like to send a message to those creating my latest pet peeve: Drivers on the Maine Turnpike who don't understand how open road toll booths work.

The Maine Turnpike has been adding what they call "Open Road Tolling" to several toll booths over the 107-mile length of the highway. It's a section of the highway that can read a vehicle's EZ-Pass transponder mounted to the windshield allowing the driver to pay the toll without stopping or even slowing down. The system was designed for drivers to pay the toll while at highway speed.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The problem that I have personally found, especially at the New Gloucester toll plaza, is that drivers seem to be acting like they're going through a traditional toll booth. The speed limit through open road tolling lanes is the same as the speed limit on most of the Maine Turnpike, 70 miles per hour. There may be some instances when speed needs to be reduced through open tolling lanes, and that's why you'll see a digital speed limit sign, allowing officials to change the speed limit in an instant.

I go through this plaza at least twice a week on my way to pick up my son in Lisbon. Almost every time I do, I'm driving 70 miles per hour and very suddenly catch up with the driver ahead who has slowed down to go through the toll. One driver even slowed down to a speed of 40 mph which is below the minimum speed of the Turnpike.

You can't pass them, because this plaza has only one open toll lane in either direction. So if someone isn't paying attention, these drivers could find a bumper in their rearview in a very short time.

So a word to all drivers going through open road toll lanes. Maintain your speed! Even if you aren't doing 70, as long as you continue at your present speed it won't suddenly come as a surprise to all the drivers behind you and will make the highway safer for all of us.

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