OK. I'll admit it. I'm a Pikepasser. In all honesty, I'm glad I am.
I'll also admit I resisted Pikepass for quite some time. But family circumstances caused me to rethink that.
Pikepass has saved me a pretty fair share of time and money over the past couple of years. It's more than convenience when saving a few miles and minutes is important.
Like many others, I had an experience — or two ... OK, three — where I was an unintentional toll violator. As soon as possible, I contacted the Pikepass or Oklahoma Turnpike Authority offices to fess up and find out what I should do. I can report that the people I talked to were very friendly and very helpful.
I will say that mailing in a toll that was less than the cost of the stamp and the envelope was a bit odd, but if it saves me having to pay a fine, I can live with it. Even mailing was cheaper than a couple gallons of gas to drive to the office.
Not everyone went my route on squaring the debt. Some have found that it can cost them much more than I paid, especially if they've had more than one violation. By law, the penalty was $25 for the first violation, $50 for a second and $75 for a third.
They got a little break, however, when the penalty dropped last week.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that cut the fine for second and beyond toll violations to a flat $25 fee.
So all those violators who had to fork over cash to pay their fines complained enough to get the law changed, right? Wrong.
It was the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority that asked for the fine drop.
Agency officials said doing so would produce a more positive customer experience, especially while trying to settle outstanding violations. Sounds reasonable to me.
Of course, OTA officials also hope the change will encourage more people to use Pikepass.
More than half a million people were Pikepass customers when the agency switched over to its window sticker program last summer.
The number continues to grow.
I notice when I'm on a turnpike, or when I simply drive near one, I can see a steady flow of traffic on the toll road. Whether it's a matter of bypassing stops and heavy in-town traffic, a faster and smoother route to a destination, or some other reason, our turnpikes are well-used.
Most anywhere transportation is discussed in Oklahoma, there are those who don't favor toll roads, or at a minimum complain that tolls are too high. That's an issue each driver has to determine on his or her own.
But if you're going to use the turnpikes, Pikepass should be a consideration. It certainly beats a penalty fee, even if it's a flat $25.
There's nothing that says you have to drive a toll road. There are alternate routes. The choice is yours.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.