Turnpike Collectors Take a Toll on Public's Nerves

By Glenn Zimmerman
|  Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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Turnpike Collectors Take a Toll on Public's Nerves

AP

Starting Monday, the cost of an average 22-mile trip on the New Jersey Turnpike will increase from $1.25 to $1.70.

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As if driving isn't stressful enough, New Jersey toll collectors may be responsible for a little road rage of their own.

For example, going into the wrong lane may get you offered a strip search.  Or, try to pay with pennies or a $100 bill that you might get anything from a middle finger to money thrown at you.

Those are just a few of the more than 550 complaints, obtained The Smoking Gun, from people over the past year and a half along the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

In one case, a woman claimed the toll collector was using their short time together as a version of speed dating.

According to the complaint, he "asked her out on a date while waiting for her receipt," and she felt "threatened."

While that motorist was getting too much attention, in another case a driver griped that the toll collector didn't give the proper change because he was "busy on his cell ordering pizza with extra pepperoni."

In many of the complaints there are curses and accusations of name-calling.  Some go as far as threats and one driver claimed the toll collector called him "the n-word in front of his kids."

A union rep told The Star-Ledger, toll collectors have it rough.

"Obviously, those kinds of things make you cringe," Franceline Ehret, a veteran toll collector and president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local No. 194, told the Star-Ledger.

"But it’s a very difficult job, and I would say that nine times out of 10, the complaints are unfounded," she said. "There’s a lot of road rage out there. People hate to wait in line for traffic."

She also said some drivers spit on their money before handing it over, and some toll collectors have had guns pointed at them.

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