How to Handle Toll Roads

Whether you are a seasoned truck driver or new to the career, you are probably aware of the many expenses that go along with this profession, including tolls. Toll roads are currently in 34 US states and can pose major costs to freight carriers. As a truck driver, it is important to understand how different tolling systems across the US operate so you can avoid costly mistakes when transporting freight. 

Different Methods of Determining Toll Charges

There are three main methods of determining how much you will be charged for tolls.

  • Toll by Axle Count

Toll by axle count is the most common way of figuring out toll charges, with 5-axle, single trailer trucks being the most common configuration. Other stipulations such as single versus double tires, number of trailers, and axles-per-trailer will help determine the toll charges. 

  • Toll by Size

The dimensions of the truck is another common method used in determining toll charges. These dimensions include width, height, and length of the truck. 

  • Toll by Weight

Some tolling stations charge truck tolls by weight, which might be surprising to some. You may not realize it, but when you pull up to the pay booth you are driving onto a scale that is weighing the truck and applying the appropriate fee. 

How Do Truck Drivers Pay for Tolls?

Truck drivers pay for tolls two ways: cash or all-electronic tolling. 


Although paying with cash is still an option, there are an increasing number of toll stations that no longer accept cash. If you pass through a toll booth that is being managed by an attendant, you will be able to use cash. However, this can slow you down some. 

All-Electronic Tolling (AET)

AET is a cashless service that enables toll collection through transponders or license plate readers. It also gets rid of the need to stop to pay a toll. More and more toll stations are installing transponder readers and video cameras to capture the license plates of vehicles that do not have transponders. Drivers will then receive a bill by mail to the address registered to the plate. Two examples of common AET transponders are EZ Pass and NationalPass. The EZ Pass is a battery-operated machine that is mounted on the windshield and can be used in 17 states. It is activated by prepaying and allows drivers to pass through a toll booth without stopping. The NationalPass does cost more than the EZ Pass, but it provides access to all toll roads in the US without having to transport more than one transponder. As a truck driver your driving will involve much use of the interstate, therefore, you will want to invest in an option that covers all the locations you visit often. 

How to Save Money on Tolls

Besides using a transponder, another way to save money and decrease the difficulties related to tolling is to use the Tollsmart Toll Calculator for trucks. This tool allows you to easily calculate toll costs for a route and find a different route with fewer tolls. As a result, you could save a large amount of money in some areas. The app also informs you of which transponders and method of payments are accepted at each toll station on your route. 

Toll roads and toll stations can be a frustrating part of anyone’s journey, especially for truck drivers who are expected to keep to a schedule and arrive at their destination by a certain time. Knowing ahead of time what to expect at toll stations, how your toll will be determined, and the options for payment will help ease any anxiety or problems that could potentially happen. If you have questions regarding toll stations, contact Direct Freight at (888) 894-4198. Any one of our staff members would be happy to answer your questions!