Tire spikes are engaged at the Américas toll plaza in Ecatepec. Tire spikes are engaged at the Américas toll plaza in Ecatepec.

Toll plaza uses automated traffic spike system on drivers who don’t pay

Drivers at the Las Américas toll plaza in Ecatepec, México state, face having their tires punctured

The evasion of tolls at a notoriously lawless toll plaza in México state looks set to become a thing of the past thanks to the installation of an automated traffic spike system.

After conducting a pilot program at the Las Américas toll plaza in Ecatepec, the operator of the Circuito Exterior Mexiquense (México state Outer Loop Road) determined that the only way to stop would-be scofflaws from passing through without paying the 62-peso (US $3) toll was to threaten to puncture their vehicles’ tires.

The automated dissuasion system – which consists of a retractable barrier of metal spikes – will be used on a permanent basis starting Tuesday. Signs on the loop road will warn motorists that the system is in operation.

If a motorist fails to pay the toll, an alarm is automatically activated and the traffic spike system is deployed. Once a vehicle’s tires have been punctured, authorities will remove it from the road and the driver will presumably face a sanction such as a fine.

“What we’re seeking to do is dissuade … drivers from committing an illegal act,” said Javier Castro, operations director of the Circuito Exterior Mexiquense. “In recent years and recent months the number of [highway] users evading the toll has increased.”

Marco Frías, director of the Mexican Association of Highway Infrastructure Concessionaires, said last week that the non-payment of tolls is most prevalent on the eastern side of the Valley of México metropolitan area, which includes Mexico City and surrounding México state municipalities such as Ecatepec.

There are videos on websites such as Facebook and YouTube that teach motorists tricks to avoid paying tolls, while toll plaza takeovers by protesters, unemployed people and others also result in non-payment and a consequent reduction in concessionaires’ revenue.

An estimated 18 to 19 million motorists per year are passing through toll plazas without paying, generating losses of over 1.5 billion pesos (US $73.9 million) for highway concessionaires.

The federal government has used the National Guard to take back control of hijacked toll plazas, and the incidence of takeovers has declined. However, it has not been able to completely stamp out the lucrative practice of seizing control of toll plazas.

With reports from Reforma 

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.