State drops ban on GA 400 toll gifting

Updated:

ATLANTA - A new state rule that banned drivers from paying the toll for the motorist behind them on Georgia Highway 400 lasted just two days.

The new rule from the State Road and Tollway Authority ended a tradition stretching back two decades where some drivers will pay the 50-cent toll for the next motorist in a charitable gesture.

The authority banned the charitable payments because some drivers had complained that cashiers were pocketing the extra change rather than using it pay for the next driver, Bert Brantley, the authority's deputy executive director, told  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gov. Nathan Deal requested that the policy be put back in place on Friday afternoon.

“With only a few months left until the tolls are removed from GA 400, Governor Deal felt it was important that we look at the toll payment policy to see if there might be a way to reinstate this long-held tradition of courtesy payments,” SRTA executive director Christopher Tomlinson said.

In what sort of world do we live?" said Rick Sanderson, 58, who learned of the policy last week when a cashier would not allow him to pay for the next driver. "We can't even do a random act of kindness?"

At least six complaints about pocketed toll money were received in the last few months. As a result, state officials ended the practice in a move meant to protect drivers and toll workers.

"When it's only one complaint every once in a while, it's not a big deal," Brantley said. "But we had repeat incidences of customers not believing that their pay-it-forward gesture was actually making it forward."

It is not clear that any money was actually stolen. Brantley said a driver might not see the extra 50 cents being thrown into the change basket for the next driver because the next motorist sometimes declines the money, allowing it to be passed onto another driver.

The toll collections are scheduled to end Nov. 21.