With the current infrastructure plan created by President Trump, issues with interstate tolls have become a typical conversation among truck drivers worldwide. Particularly owner-operators who pay the toll costs themselves. Tolls are how states finance roadway maintenance and upkeep infrastructures, so these fees are not going away. The federal government finances 25% of roadways, and the state government finances the other 75%.
A study has recently been conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute that found toll costs for truckers can often be 3 – 6 times higher than passenger vehicles. During this study, it was also found that toll roads often do not benefit truck drivers. Having highway tolls in place does not offer a faster transportation time, and many owner-operators try to avoid toll booths.
Exactly how toll roads impact truck drivers and what can be done about tolls is a constant discussion in the trucking industry. Recently, Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls have made national news regarding how tolls affect truck drivers and how some drivers are choosing to hit the brakes on these required fees.
Although tolls can help improve highways and help raise money for new roads, truck drivers believe toll fees impact their efficiency negatively.
How Highway Tolls Impact Truckers
Increasing the cost of moving goods
One of the most noticeable effects of a toll increase on the interstate is the increased costs of running products. This cost has increased significantly. Truckers have seen this cost effect on trucking companies, especially in Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, one toll-way in Illinois has increased its costs for truck drivers by 60% within the last two years.
By raising the rates, this has added hundreds of thousands of dollars for Illinois trucking companies. Even though truckers take up a fraction of the traffic on the highways, they are still required to pay higher tolls than passenger vehicles. This often places owner-operators and freight companies at severe inconvenience. Due to the costs of transporting goods soon being passed to the business requesting these goods and then to the customer, this will have a negative result on our economy, especially for smaller businesses.
Congestion on Toll Roadways
Another effect on toll roads, which frequently unnoticed, is the congestion on secondary roadways; drivers often travel to avoid paying toll costs. This is an exceptional worry for truck drivers because congested roads usually put them behind their delivery schedules but can also cause safety concerns. Roadways with multiple starts and stops, speed limit changes, and congestion can produce unsafe road surroundings. Drivers who spend more time driving in these hazardous driving conditions can be harmful to other drivers and their own safety.
The Decrease in Toll Efficiency
The money is collected by tolls and then redirected to pay for maintenance and road construction. Having this method may not always be well-organized. According to a study conducted by the National Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, approximately 12% of the money collected from tolls is rewarded to administrative, enforcement, and collection budgets.
Similarly, the fuel tax is an effective way to obtain funds for construction and maintenance. According to the same study conducted, 99% of the tax from fuel goes to sustaining infrastructure. Toll interstates could prove to have a negative impact on trucking industries as well as businesses and customers who buy these transporting goods. To keep prices reasonable, states could research other effective ways to fund new road construction and maintenance.
Having tolls set in place can help make transportation more efficient and lower the negative impacts of transporting goods. Tolls typically bring in revenue for a budget without harmfully impacting the price of goods. However, as toll prices are increasing, this could all change. Trucking companies are beginning to experience more hardship with having to pay higher toll rates. Are you and your trucking company ready for these changes?