Humans take the fast out of Fast Lane technology

Massachusetts Turnpike makes lousy commute maddening

Working from home would have been the wiser course this morning, given that the snow had already made traffic miserable as I was driving my son cross-town to school. However, the subsequent 90-minute white-knuckler to the office could have been a good 10-15 minutes shorter if only the Massachusetts Turnpike wasn't run by incompetents and/or hamstrung by unions.

The Pike eastbound wasn't bad; slow, but not bad.

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A half-mile from my exit, however, traffic comes to a virtual stop and it is readily apparent that the line for the tollbooth is queued this far back. Again, I lambaste myself for not staying home.

When the booths finally come into view, the problem - or at least the lion's share of it - couldn't be clearer: There are four booths, only two of which are equipped with Fast Lane technology; the other two being manned by humans.

The half-mile line merges with those cars approaching from the east and almost everyone feeds into the two Fast Lane booths because almost everyone has a Fast Lane transponder by now.

The other two booths are empty - utterly empty - save for the toll takers and the occasional out-of-state driver or Luddite.

I'm sure there's an explanation. ... And I'm sure it stinks.

Coincidentally, we have a story on our site this morning about an upcoming Black Hat conference briefing where a researcher will contend that "weaknesses in 802.11p vehicular wireless networks could make them targets for terrorists seeking to wreak havoc on the nation's highways" by manipulating warning messages to create artificial traffic jams. "It would make killing a lot of people easy," he says.

It would also be totally unnecessary.

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