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Heading on an American Road Trip? Get to Know Toll Road Law

— July 29, 2021

Remember: planning ahead will save you from being too stressed on your trip! Road trips are about relieving stress and having a great vacation.

Are you gearing up for the next great American road trip? Road trips across the country have been popular for decades, and it doesn’t seem like their popularity will be fading anytime soon. With many parts of the country ramping up in tourism, people are thinking more about getting on the road and exploring parts unknown.

However, before you hit the road, it’s important to learn more about toll roads, toll road laws, and what you should consider while driving toll roads. Toll roads are often subject to different speed limits and costs than other roads, so you should look these things up in advance.

Today, learn about toll roads before your next road trip.

Toll Road Laws: How are They Different?

The rules of the road are the same on toll roads as they are on other roads! The biggest difference is that you need to pay to get on toll roads, and the speed limits are often higher than what you’ll see on other highways in the same region.

In Pennsylvania, for example, the PA turnpike has a 70 mph speed limit in many areas, but speed limits on other highways cap out at 65 mph.

While it may seem like tolls are everywhere, there are just under 3,000 miles of turnpikes in the interstate highway system. In total, this system spans more than 46,000 miles. Often, toll routes allow you to connect to another area more quickly and easily.

Saving Money on Toll Roads

One of the biggest things that many people think about when they plan to drive toll roads is its cost. Toll roads can get very pricey, and those costs need to go into your budget when you plan your trip.

Before you go, look up the expected cost using a tolls calculator for a trip. A calculator will help you know exactly what to expect, how tolls need to be paid, and other information that can be helpful when planning a trip.

Traveling efficiently is always important, and tolls help you to do just that. However, sometimes the cost of tolls is higher than the savings you’ll see on time and gas. You should always consider if taking an alternative route is worth it. However, in most cases, toll roads are a great way to save time and money while traveling long distances.

Tips For Driving on Toll Roads

Are you planning to include some toll road driving in your next road trip?

If so, make sure to follow these key tips to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.

Get Your Transponder Ahead of Time

In many areas, you get an EZ Pass, SunPass, or similar transponder so that you don’t need to stop and pay tolls. In fact, many toll roads no longer have you stop and pay even without a pass. Instead, you are billed later by your license plate information, and this can incur a service fee

To make your trip move more smoothly and save a little money, you can buy your toll pass device in advance. This allows you to drive through special lanes rather than waiting to stop at a toll booth making your journey a bit easier.

Before you travel, make sure to look up which toll transponders you would need for your route. You may need more than one in some cases, so getting billed by mail may be a more practical choice.

Continue to Follow Normal Traffic Laws

Even though you are on a toll road where there may be fewer cars or traffic, that does not mean that you do not need to follow normal traffic laws.

Just as you would on any other road, make sure to use the left lane when passing and move to the right when you are not passing. Use your turn signals to alert other drivers when switching lanes, and always follow posted speed limits.

Budget for Seasonal Fluctuations

An empty road. Image via Flickr/user:span112. (CCA-BY-2.0).

If you are traveling into an area with high tourism and increased traffic during a certain season, you may see seasonal toll rate changes. The Chesapeake Bridge region, for example, has higher tolls during the summer months when beachgoers flood the area. This helps to cover the additional wear and tear on the road during these months.

Budget for these fluctuations in advance so that you are not caught off guard.

Ask About Your Rental Car

If you are going to be driving a rental car on your road trip, ask the rental agency about tolls in advance. Does the car have a transponder that can be used when visiting toll roads, or do you need to pay at the toll booth?

If you do not find this out before driving on toll roads, you may be surprised with bills and service fees from the rental agency if they are billed for these drives. Asking about the policy on toll roads in advance will save you a lot of headaches and confusion.

Plan Your Next Road Trip Today

Are you getting ready to plan for your next big trip? Not yet set on all of your destinations? When adding the best U.S. landmarks and attractions, it can be easy to end up with a very long list of places to visit, and that’s okay!

Don’t be afraid to plan your trip in legs that allow you to take breaks in between, or even split your trip up into multiple parts. If there isn’t an easy way to drive on a toll road or otherwise between attractions, you may have a better road trip if you split things up into more manageable places.

Remember: planning ahead will save you from being too stressed on your trip! Road trips are about relieving stress and having a great vacation. Don’t let the driving and planning make the trip stressful by planning ahead of time.

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