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Driving and Using Toll Booths

Toll booths are a necessary part of modern driving. Many countries have toll booths in place for a number of reasons. Primarily they are used to gain extra funding to keep roads in good conditions, especially roads that are high in traffic. They can also be there to try to quell some traffic from, particularly busy areas as by charging individuals to pass, many will choose to find alternative routes. If you are unfamiliar with the etiquette of driving through toll booths, there are a few essential tips you should know.

Cash or Pass at the Toll Booth

  • Cash Booths - Many toll booths will allow drivers to pay cash in order to pass through. In most major routes, if there's a toll, you will generally be able to drive up to the window, pay cash and then continue on.
  • Unmanned Booths - In some unmanned toll booths, you may be required to have the exact change, which you then throw into a collecting basin. This automatically counts the money you've paid and raises the gate for you to pass through.
  • Credit Card Payment Booths – Most modern toll booths will allow you to pay by credit card or debit card. In many cases, you can simply insert your card or if there is a cashier, give it to the cashier to process.
  • Pass Only Booths - There are often pass only lanes which exist for people who regularly travel through the toll booth. These people will buy an annual pass which allows them to pass through the toll without having to stop and pay. This keeps the traffic flowing, means they don't always have to wait to pay, and prevents them from always needing cash. If you use a toll regularly in your travel, it's often worth getting a pass, as it will not only speed up the process of passing through the toll but is generally cheaper.

In most cases, if there is a choice of payment type, you will be directed into the correct lane on approach.

Toll Booths Abroad

If you're driving abroad, there may be more toll roads than you're used to in the UK. Many foreign countries employ toll roads as a means of keeping traffic controlled and getting money to keep roads in good condition. Toll roads are often on the motorway links into and out of large cities and dependent on the country you're in, there are variations that you should learn about before travelling.

  • France – Most motorway links in France are toll roads. Many have toll stations that give you access to a certain part of the road. They may also have an entry and exit station and you will be given an entry ticket. You must give this to the cashier on exiting that section of the road. You will be charged for that section, but if you lose your ticket, you will be charged the longest distance. All toll booths accept credit cards, so you can pay cash, credit or use a pass.
  • Australia – Many toll roads in Australia have the option to auto-pay, pay a cashier, or use an 'E Toll'. This is a national system and your E Toll pass means you can drive straight through, so long as you're showing it on your windscreen. If you pass through one of these lanes without a pass, your registration number will be recorded and you will be sent a form that enables you to pay. You can also pay online if you realise you've done this. Some roads are only pass enabled, so check before using these toll roads that you are able to pay cash or credit.
  • Portugal – Toll roads in Portugal are called portagem. There are many on approach to major cities and they usually have green lanes for drivers with automated passes. If you are paying cash, try to have the right change available. There are large fines for those who don't pay their toll fees.
  • Spain – Toll roads in Spain are very common. They are pretty expensive and have service stations regularly. Similar to France, you often collect a ticket on entry and then pay on exit. The toll roads are called autopista and the toll booths are called peaje. They are split into three sections normally, credit cards and exact cash (automatico), cashier (manual) and passes (telepago).

Although there are many more differences between countries with regards to toll roads and booths, the main thing to remember is that you should carry loose change with you in the car. Plan ahead so you know where the toll roads are and try to ensure you're aware of which lane to enter on approach. 


Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.