Caution: glitches ahead – The Hindu

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Looking at the electronic device affixed to the windscreen of his car, Gowtham Singhi wondered why the Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) employed by his FASTag did not activate at the Kaza toll plaza on National Highway 16.

He had hoped to drive through the plaza without stopping for the transaction, but it did not happen because of the ‘blacklisting’ of his tag. Clueless, he looked at the staff who said it could be perhaps because he did not have sufficient balance in his FASTag account and advised him to call his bank’s toll-free call centre number to enquire about his balance amount.

To avoid ‘blacklisting’, the customer should recharge his tag when he gets the alert of low balance from the bank, the staff explained to Mr. Gowtham.

Long arm of law

FASTags can also be ‘blacklisted’ by the law enforcement agencies due to any rule violation complaint against the vehicle. Introduced with a slogan “Goodbye Queues, Hello FASTags”, the new technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to the device is aimed at enabling a smooth drive through toll plazas along National Highways, without stopping for cash transactions.

Despite initial glitches, the new mode of payment has overtaken cash payment at the fee plazas along National Highways in Andhra Pradesh. “Toll collection through FASTags has surpassed payments made through cash along the NH network,” said Anil Dixit, Regional Officer, NHAI, Vijayawada.

Caution: glitches ahead

Addressing glitches

Mr. Dixit admits that there are initial glitches which are being addressed effectively. To iron out the roadblocks and ensure a smooth drive for the road users, the department has listed out the obstacles and is sorting them out. He says most issues can be sorted out by taking care of small things. If the RFID is unable to detect the FASTag, one should ensure that the glass of the wind shield is clean and dry from outside while affixing the sticker.

If the vehicle windshield has UV protection film on the inside part, it needs to be removed from the area where the FASTag is stuck and the sticker must be directly installed on the glass. “UV protection films have a layer of metallic oxides on them which may prevent the RFID reader at the toll gate from reading your FASTag.”

While sticking the device, do not press hard lest it may damage the chip inside. Once stuck, do not peel off the FASTag to stick it elsewhere as this could also damage the chip.

Other small measures include not going too close to the vehicle in the front while approaching the toll booth. There should be a gap of at least 100 feet and one should wait till the vehicle in front moves past the toll gate barrier and the barrier arm is lowered before bringing your vehicle within the sensing range of the overhead tag reader.

Failure to maintain the required distance may again get you ‘Blacklisted’ message, warns Mr. Dixit.

There have also been complaints of toll charge being deducted twice due to technical errors. “The bank your tag account is registered with can help you with this. Visit your FASTag customer portal and register a claim and request for compensation,” he says.

Drivers using the NH routes regularly also fear loss or theft of the device since it is fixed to the outer side of the vehicle. The vehicle owner should then notify the issuing agency or the bank about it for blocking of the account and acquiring a new tag.

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