$17.4 billion. That is the estimated amount of toll revenue generated in the U.S. every year. The country’s first toll road opened in 1792. Today, 38 states have toll roads, bridges, and tunnels, as well as express lanes, or other toll facilities.
Of all tolls collected annually, commercial trucks pay nearly $5 billion, or about 30%, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. Most any carrier traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike knows running end to end costs about $300. In fact, the Pennsylvania Turnpike holds the record for the most expensive toll road in the world, according to a 2021 insurance company study.
But this article is not about the price of doing business on America’s roadways. Tolls aren’t going anywhere, and neither are their annual fee increases. This resource details the hidden costs beyond tolling rates and how overlooking the true price of ineffective toll management affects your business’s bottom line.
Getting paid in trucking can be a challenge. Anything that delays an invoice from going out the door or creates a payment dispute compounds the problem. The result is limited cash flow that affects growth or forces costly interest payments from loans and credit lines.
Poorly managed toll chargebacks to the customer can significantly affect profitability. First, many fleets lose time manually pulling estimated tolls for a route to price shipments. However, toll rates can fluctuate based on time of day, detours, and congestion. The actual cost often varies from the estimate, setting an invoice up for dispute, or forcing the carrier to eat the difference. Pulling data or waiting for month-end toll agency invoices to verify actual charges takes time and can delay issuing shipper invoices. Fleets working without a streamlined process for quickly and accurately assessing tolls are likely creating costly freight payment delays, extra back-office work, and unnecessary cash flow challenges.
Managing Toll Payments
No single toll pass works at all U.S. toll facilities. In fact, 12 different groups manage tolls across the country, many with their own device or tag. For trucking companies operating throughout the continental U.S., that means 12 different account registrations, multiple in-cab passes, and 12 different toll invoices needing reconciliation every month. It’s a lot to manage. Now add to that 12 different processes for submitting toll disputes. The process is inefficient at best. At worst, managing each agency individually makes auditing monthly toll charges across every truck and route nearly impossible. Fleets often end up overpaying toll agency or missing opportunities to bill fees back to the customer because the data becomes too time consuming to manage effectively.
Disputing Toll Charges
Maximum tolls, know commonly as “max tolls,” represent a costly problem for carriers. Toll agencies often issue fees based on a truck’s exit point without factoring in the entry plaza. When that happens, toll agencies assess the maximum fee for driving on the roadway. What should be a toll of a few dollars jumps to the full charge for using the entire toll road. Scouring month-end invoices and comparing them to truck routes to find inaccurate max toll charges costs carriers valuable time and resources. Disputing max tolls with toll authorities requires even more time and resources.
Most toll operators require written submission of billing errors with supporting proof. Many take up to a month or longer to review the materials and issue a credit to the carrier. The process ties up money and staff hours. For many fleets, the resources do not exist to find and fight inaccurate tolls, so they end up overpaying every month.
Tracking Toll Violations
Toll violations come in all shapes and sizes. A device moved from one truck to another. New plates are not on file. A truck was in the wrong toll lane. Simple mistakes create costly problems. One violation can increase a toll fee by 10 times or even more! One trailer with a missing plate could generate thousands of dollars in the form of toll violations in just one week. Without a good toll management process in place, the root causes of violations can go unnoticed, racking up fees and putting driver records at risk.
One Pass, One Process
The price of mismanaging tolls adds up quickly. Overpayments. Manpower. Cash flow delays. The list goes on.
Working with PrePass eliminates them all.
PrePass Tolls™ simplifies nationwide truck tolling. One in-cab pass covers the country, east to west and north to south. One month-end invoice includes all fees assessed across every tolling agency. One payment goes to PrePass.
And with PrePass Tolls you also get INFORM™ Tolling, a data analytics platform, providing one dashboard to view toll charges, allowing audits to happen in near real time. Fleets can review previous route tolls for more exact freight pricing. Dashboard notifications alert carriers of abnormal fees to never miss another max toll charge. PrePass serves as one point of contact for managing toll and violation disputes directly.
PrePass delivers cost savings, convenience, and efficiency to toll management. Discover why switching to PrePass Tolls is one of the best decisions you can make for your business. Learn more here.
The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.