We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Electronic Toll Collection?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the old fairy tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” three goats must cross a bridge barred by an exceptionally unpleasant troll. The ideas reflected in the tale may surely be applied to the concept of the toll road, which is by no means new and has been slowing down the stream of traffic, foot, cart, car, or otherwise, for a very long time. Since toll bridges and roads are unlikely to go the way of the troll, innovative methods have evolved for speeding up these toll passings. Electronic toll collection, for instance, is a way to collect a toll while people make short stops or don’t even have to stop as they enter a toll road.

There are many different examples of electronic toll collection in use today. These typically use some form of scanning device, either handheld or placed near a tollbooth, which may read a device or sticker on a car and automatically deduct money from the driver’s registered account. If people use the same toll roads everyday, they may be able to use the same device at all times and have access to an online means to add money as needed so that they are able to pay the toll with fewer stops and starts or without even having to slow down.

Being able to speed through a toll road may be most desirable, but it does come with one feature that can be problematic. When people don’t have the necessary device or decal on their car, they can sometimes evade the toll. Some electronic toll collection devices limit this by making people pass through a tollgate that will only function if a person has adequate money in their account or if the driver has the necessary equipment on a vehicle to show he/she has an account. Of course, the disadvantage of using gates is that it does slow traffic, sometimes to a stop and start progress.

One thing that can be said about electronic toll collection is that it is extremely varied. Each system may work slightly differently and require different equipment, decals or other things to access speedier areas of transit. Additionally, though electronic toll collection can be desired on those routes where heavy commute traffic occurs, it doesn’t necessarily preclude the need to have human toll collectors. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, the Fastrak program can be used on a number of bridges: a convenience for commuters, but relatively unnecessary for the occasional traveler. Ultimately, the cost to collect toll electronically can create a higher toll, which is then conferred upon the frequent and infrequent traveler at the same rate.

There are certainly positive things to be said about electronic toll collection. It is usually easy to use, more convenient and it does more than reduce time wasted paying the toll. When cars make only brief stops or able to travel through without stopping, lower vehicle emissions result. The fact that this form of collection may reduce pollution levels does not go unmentioned, and the attractiveness of collection from this aspect alone is powerful inducement to install collection systems.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.