Tolling and Pricing Program - Links to Tolling and Pricing Program Home

Strategies for Improving Safety at Toll Collection Facilities

REDUCING WORKER RISK OF ASSAULT

THE CHALLENGE

Another concern related to toll worker safety is the possibility of physical assault, either by irate customers or in connection with a robbery. At each site the study team visited, the agencies cited examples of workers being spit upon, having objects thrown at them, and - in extreme cases - being shot at. Fear of armed robbery was particularly pronounced in locations where a lone worker might be present - such as at an exit ramp plaza.

POTENTIAL MITIGATION STRATEGIES

While little can be done to entirely eliminate these occurrences, a number of mitigation strategies have been adopted. These include:

  • Keeping doors locked while in the booth.
  • Having periodic cash drops during shifts to minimize the amount of cash that a collector has on hand at any given time.
  • Maintaining close relationships with local law enforcement.
  • Having closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in and around the booths.
  • Having bullet-resistant glass on the booths.
  • Providing collectors with Kevlar vests.

Nearly all agencies that the team spoke with have a handset in the booth for collectors to communicate directly with other collectors at the plaza, with a supervisor at the plaza building or at a nearby plaza, or - in many cases - with a communications center that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to this, most agencies that the team spoke with have covert panic alarms in their booths so that collectors can call for help in an emergency situation; some also issue cell phones to collectors as an additional means of being able to communicate during an emergency.

One agency has a "Toll Security Committee" that meets every few months to discuss any incidents that have occurred recently and to brainstorm ways to prevent these types of incidents in the future.

Strategy Rankings, Effectiveness, and Constraints

Table 4 lists each strategy identified for mitigating safety issues associated with assault and provides comments from practitioners on strategy effectiveness and any concerns/constraints. The table also provides information on practitioner ranking results from the Toll Facility Safety Study Workshop.

Table 4. Potential Strategies to Mitigate Assault
Strategy Description Rankings from Workshop Participants and Comments on Effectiveness12 Concerns / Constraints
Lock booth doors Instruct collector to keep the booth door locked at all times when inside the booth.
  • Nine of 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy. Five of those 9 participants selected it as the most effective solution.
  • May restrict collectors' ability to rapidly exit the booth in an emergency.
Have periodic cash drops during shifts. May reduce the temptation for robbery.
  • Ten of 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy
  • None.
Install cameras in and around booths. Provides both a deterrent and investigation tool.
  • Fourteen of 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy. Seven of those 14 participants selected it as the most effective solution.
  • Expensive to install and monitor.
Install bullet-resistant glass on booths. Offers additional protection to collectors against assault and guns.
  • None of the 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy.
  • Limited effectiveness as collectors must keep at least part of the booth open to interact with the public.
  • Very expensive.
Provide bullet-resistant vests to collectors. One toll agency began offering collectors the option of wearing bullet-resistant vests after one of its collectors was shot.
  • None of the 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy.
  • Expensive.
  • May be uncomfortable to wear.
Install covert panic alarms in all booths. Allows for collectors to summon help either from nearby supervisor or law enforcement. Particularly helpful at remote locations with a single collector.
  • Fifteen of 20 workshop participants selected this solution as a top three strategy. Seven of those 15 participants selected it as the second most effective solution.
  • Potential issue with false alarms.



12 Within this group of strategies, workshop participants were asked to select and rank the top three strategies that they believed to have the greatest potential to mitigate worker assault. Comments were not able to be recorded during the workshop as there was a power outage during this portion of the session.

Office of Operations