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Illegally crossing into MoPac Express Lane could get you $200 fine

An Austin man's dash camera video captures the moment a driver crossed from the south MoPac main lanes into the express lane. It shows the truck plowing over the barriers that divide the two lanes. (Image courtesy: Frank Maulit)

An Austin man's dash camera video captures the moment a driver crossed from the south MoPac main lanes into the express lane. It shows the truck plowing over the barriers that divide the two lanes.

Frank Maulit said he was driving his regular commute Thursday morning going southbound near Far West Blvc.

Maulit said the traffic was a little more backed up than normal because of an accident and that's when the driver in front of him darted over into the toll lane.

"I mean you see these kinds of things all the time on the road," Maulit said,"

Maulit got the dash camera for Christmas to protect himself in the event of an accident and to capture moments just like this one. "It was a little bit of shock at first," Maulit said.

At the beginning of his video, traffic on MoPac is almost at a standstill, then the driver in front of him darts into the express lane.

"It's always disappointing to see people putting lives at risk doing stupid things like that," said Steve Pustelnyk, director of community relations with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Pustelnyk has seen the video. He said not only is it dangerous, it's illegal. "It is a finable offense in the city of Austin. It's a $200 fine," Pustelnyk said.

There's are a number of signs posted up and down MoPac warning drivers not to cross the double white lines. Pustelnyk fears if this keeps happening it could cause a catastrophic accident. "You have vehicles coming at 65 miles per hour with suddenly a car veering in front of them. It could be a very ugly accident," Pustelnyk said.

No one was hurt Thursday and Pustelnyk is unsure if the driver of the white truck seen in the video got a free ride or not. "It depends on where you do it. There's always a chance you could get caught," Pustelnyk said.

He said the system was set up to collect tolls, not to try and catch violators who enter the lane illegally, but if drivers take the risk they might be hearing from Pustelnyk's office. "This person, we have their license plate so it wouldn't be surprising if they get some correspondence from us," Pustelnyk said.

Currently, Pustelnyk said drivers crossing into the express lane hasn't become a huge problem, but if it does, the CTRMA will take extra steps to catch these drivers, like adding additional cameras and sensors to catch people in the act.

"We have added additional signs up and down the corridor, we've added the fine amounts to those signs and we're taking the issue seriously because it's a safety issue. It's an unsafe behavior and it needs to stop," Pustelnyk said.

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