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Tolls

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Tolls are fees charged for the privilege of driving on some roads. They may be charged on a stretch of a highway or other road, to cross a bridge or tunnel, to enter an area, or to pass some other point. The purpose of charging tolls is a form of taxation that is charged directly to the users of the service. Toll roads are found in many countries.

Methods of collection[edit]

Cash[edit]

The original and most traditional method of toll collection is by cash paid directly to a teller in a booth. This requires the motorist to come to a complete stop to make the payment. During times of heavy traffic, jams may be created as many motorists wait their turn to pay the toll. Fortunately, technology has reduced this problem in many places.

Some toll collection points require exact change if cash is to be paid. Some take coins only and don't accept paper money.

Credit/Debit card[edit]

Some toll plazas accept credit and/or debit cards as a form of payment for individual tolls. This is the case in Italy on all national highways.

Multiple trip tickets[edit]

At some toll plazas, multiple trip tickets are available. A pack of tickets can be purchased at a bulk rate that on average costs less per ticket than an individual cash payment. This is becoming less common as advanced technology has been introduced in many places.

Commuter passes[edit]

Some toll plazas sell commuter passes that allow for unlimited usage at that plaza. This is less common though in modern times.

Windshield readers[edit]

Very common today are windshield readers. The reader is tied in with an account that has a certain amount of funds. Each time a toll plaza is crossed, funds are deducted from the account. When the account goes below a certain level, funds are added, charged to a credit or debit card. Or funds can be added manually.

The reader system allows motorists to pay their tolls without stopping, and sometimes without reducing their speed.

Automatic tag reading[edit]

On some highways, the number plates of all vehicles that cross the path of a camera are read. The toll from there is automatically billed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Stickers[edit]

In some countries, all motorists must purchase a window sticker that is valid for a fixed period of time. The sticker, once on the window, allows for unlimited usage of that country's toll roads. Failure to bear the sticker results in a fine being charged to the owner of the vehicle.

Toll avoidance[edit]

Toll avoidance, also known as shunpiking, is the use of alternate routes to the toll roads to avoid paying tolls. Generally this is legal, since the alternate routes used are just as open to the public. But there are things to consider before avoiding the toll.

The alternate route may be longer than the toll road. This may result in spending more money in gas, thereby negating any savings.

And if the alternate route takes more time, this may also be a loss. Time means different things to different people. But to some people, time could be money.

In many places where there is a choice between a free or a toll road to accomplish the same trip, it is not uncommon for the free road to have more traffic because most motorists would rather not pay given the choice. Getting caught in traffic could mean time, money, and gas, as well as wear and tear on your car, even when the two routes otherwise would take exactly the same amount of time.

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