The in basket: Larry Blain writes, “A few days ago I was once again behind a vehicle with a bike rack completely obscuring the rear license plate. This set me thinking.
“Whether that is legal or not (I suspect not), what is the percentage of the vehicles crossing the Narrows Bridge that the automated license reading equipment are unable to identify? I can see this happening from hidden license plates such as I observed, paper license plates on darkly tinted windows on newly licensed vehicles, and out-of-state vehicles.
“Since the same problem also would apply to tolled HOV lanes and the SR-520 Bridge, the amount of lost revenue probably is significant.
“Is any effort made to identify vehicles with unrecognizable license plates that are repeatedly observed by the cameras?
“I hope the state DOT has some statistics on this.”
The in basket: The state’s toll division answers, “The toll equipment photographs the front and rear license plates, so if the rear one is obscured, we can still read the front one. Per state law, front plates are required for all vehicles issued a front plate.
“Our toll equipment takes photos only of the area of the vehicle around the license plate, because it is illegal to photograph the inside of vehicles.
“We have agreements with the other states that they will provide us the vehicle owner’s registered address so we can send a bill to that address.
“If the license plate recognition software is unable to automatically read the license plate, then the plates will be manually reviewed by customer service. Unreadable license plates account for only about 1.5 percent of the total trips on our toll facilities.”