Crime and Safety

New Yorkers Use Fall Foliage to Their Advantage, Avoid Tolls by Using Leaves

It’s fall foliage as camouflage.

Drivers have been using the autumn weather to their advantage by sticking leaves and other items onto their license plates in order to avoid tolls and speeding fines, according to the New York Post.

Many upset citizens have posted pictures and videos on social media showing various objects that have been strategically placed on license plates in order to obscure at least one of the numbers.

One woman told the Post that she had almost been in an accident earlier this month after a silver vehicle, with a branch stuck on its plate, ran through a red light and almost rammed into her.

“It angers me deeply, as there have been one too many times that my life has been on the line, only to see someone drive away with, of course, an obstructed plate,” said the woman, identified as Brianna Brooke.

Daniel DeCrescenzo Jr., the president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an affiliate of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, told the Post the crime can be fairly obvious to spot, particularly when “you’re doing 70 miles an hour and that leaf is sticking to the plate.”

“You could tell right away,” DeCrescenzo said.

Have you ever obscured your license plate to avoid a toll?

According to an August report in Streetsblog NYC, an arm of the Streetsblog USA site that promotes alternatives to automobile use, the MTA takes a picture of each vehicle that crosses the city’s bridges and sends toll bills to the addresses registered with the license plates. If the license plate is unreadable, the images are relegated to the category of “unbillable.”

As if New York City doesn’t have enough problems, with crime, embarrassing elected officials and general chaos, the Post reported that the MTA has already lost over $19 million in revenue this year due to unreadable license plates.

Obscured plates also allow motorists to evade cameras that capture images of speeding vehicles and those running red lights.

Adam White, a self-described “safe streets advocate” and a New York lawyer who often represents injured pedestrians, frequently shares such images on social media.

According to Streetsblog NYC, White was arrested earlier this month and charged with criminal mischief after removing a piece of black plastic from a vehicle because it was obscuring a digit of the license plate number.

“This is what I do for a living. People are getting killed and maimed all over the city, and you can’t identify a vehicle,” White told Streetsblog NYC at the time.

“It’s undermining all laws, speed cameras. Police don’t do anything about it.”

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