Nearly 50,000 turnpike customers still have time to exchange their outdated Pikepass transponder units for windshield stickers rather than risk getting a ticket or paying more to travel on the state's 10 toll roads.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is deactivating the transponder units of Pikepass customers who have received a fifth and final notice to switch to the stickers, which have been in place since March.
“If they have a Pikepass that's been turned off, they are subject to getting pulled over by the OHP (Oklahoma Highway Patrol),” agency spokesman Jack Damrill said Monday.
The Turnpike Authority deactivated 39,245 units Friday, he said, from the list of 85,000 Pikepass customers who had failed to make the switch. The units were disabled about a month after those customers received their fifth and final notices.
“We're finding most customers were nonresponsive to those notices because they wanted to wait until the last moment or their contact information had changed and they did not notify us,” Damrill said. “But the majority that we talked to said they were just going to wait until the last moment.”
Transponder units will continue to be deactivated through the second week of January, Damrill said. And in March, or one year after the Turnpike Authority began using windshield sticker tags, all the old transponder units will be deactivated, he said.
“Sometime around the middle of March we will turn off the old Pikepasses,” he said. “We're done sending out notices.”
The Turnpike Authority switched to windshield tags because the hard-case units are no longer being produced. It's expected the turnpike will issue about 1.4 million windshield stickers to its 593,750 Pikepass accounts.
Unlike the old Pikepass units, which could be moved between vehicles, customers are required to have a sticker tag for each vehicle. The tag stops working as soon as it is removed from a windshield.
14% haven't switched
Customers can exchange the old units for the stickers at no cost. Before Friday, about 14 percent of the Pikepass account holders had not switched to the sticker tags.
“We're trying to be cognizant of our customers and trying to do everything we can to notify them so they don't get their Pikepass turned off,” Damrill said. “We're trying to do everything we can to help them out.”
The Turnpike Authority has received few complaints from motorists who have had their old units deactivated, he said. That indicates a majority of the devices weren't being used and could have been lost, stolen or misplaced. Customers also could have closed their Pikepass accounts and failed to return the units, he said.
Motorists with the deactivated units will be charged the higher cash tolls instead of the discounted Pikepass fee. The Turnpike Authority is planning at first to send courtesy notices, but motorists who don't respond or continue to refuse to get a windshield sticker will be sent a violation notice, which carries a $25 fine per event.
Motorists without windshield sticker tags who go through a Pikepass reader will have their license plates photographed; those who don't have their vehicle tag on file with the Turnpike Authority and aren't identified as a Pikepass customer will eventually be sent a violation notice.
How to switch
• Customers with the old transponders who want to get windshield stickers can call (800) 745-3727.
• Motorists who want to become Pikepass customers should call the same number.