Your Guide to Navigating Toll Roads in the US
Toll roads can be tricky! But here at Uproad, we’re here to make them simple.
We’ve put together a handy step-by-step guide on navigating toll roads in the USA.
But before we get into it, let’s quickly discuss - what are tolls?
A toll road, or a turnpike (as they are referred to in some states), is a road or section of road that users pay a small fee to use. Toll roads are usually optional, with alternative routes to your destination possible.
The benefit of toll roads is that they are well-maintained and provide a less congested route, meaning less time wasted in traffic (yay!)
Toll roads make it possible to get to your destination quicker. Now, that’s worth paying for. Some scenic toll roads are especially worth paying those few extra dollars for.
Take 17-Mile Drive, for example, in California. This toll road hugs the Pacific coastline as it winds around the Monterey Peninsula, offering stunning views of the coast, cypress trees, and rocky outcrops. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal or two.
Uproad’s Step-by-Step Guide to Toll Roads
Step One: Plan your route!
Whether you’re heading away for a work trip or planning a once-in-a-lifetime road trip - you should always check for tolls along your route. There’s nothing worse than being stung with a fine for those road trip tolls you forgot to pay!
With the Uproad Trip Calculator, you can see the estimated cost for the tolls along your route right in the app. You'll see that the route with toll roads is usually more direct and shorter.
Step Two: Decide how you’ll pay
There are a few ways to pay for toll roads. You can pay for them as you use them, or you can pay afterward. Just make sure you don’t forget to pay, or you’ll end up with a bill in the mail - and maybe even late fees.
How to pay at toll roads:
There are basically three ways to pay for toll roads:
Here at Uproad, we’ve made it our mission to make paying tolls simple.
The Uproad app allows you to pay for toll roads as you go without the worry of missing a payment. Simply download the app to set up an account and you’ll be able to hit the roads straight away in most states! You can use Uproad across the country on almost every toll road.
Keep a prepaid balance or pay as you go by linking your credit or debit card, PayPal, or Venmo (and even Google pay
With Uproad, you won’t have to worry about missing a toll again. What’s more? Once your account is set up, you can hit the road right away in most states- your tolls will be taken care of.
With a Transponder
Another option is to pay with a transponder.
What is a transponder?
A toll transponder is a small device that attaches to your windshield and interacts with electronic toll equipment every time you use a toll road.
However - keep in mind that you’ll have to order a transponder in advance of using toll roads. This often involves filling out an application form online. Once your transponder arrives in the mail, it’ll then take between 48 to 72 hours to be activated. You'll also need to pre-load a high balance to your account.
When you use the toll roads, the toll charge will then be automatically deducted from your account balance.
There are many different toll transponders that work on different roadways in certain states. You’ll need to check which transponder is compatible with the roads you’ll be using, especially if driving acros state lines.
In some cases, you may need more one. In fact, if you’re planning a full road trip across the country, you’ll probably need at least three.
Some of the major toll transponder companies include E-ZPASS, FasTrak, and SunPass.
Pay by Mail/Toll by Plate
A somewhat outdated and inconvenient way of paying! Or the only way if you forget to pay a toll.
When you use a toll road, camera equipment will snap a pic of your license plate. If you don’t pay using a toll app like Uproad, or with a transponder, a bill will be sent to the vehicle's registered owner. You’ll end up paying for the toll plus a processing fee. This fee varies depending on the state, but it’s usually somewhere between 0.50 cents and $2.50. And - be sure you aren't late on payment. Late fees can be $50 or more.
What about cash?
No, we haven’t forgotten - cash is still an option for some toll roads. However, many toll roads are switching (or have switched) to All Electronic Tolling (AET), eliminating the need to stop to pay a toll.
How much are toll roads?
The cost of driving a toll road varies. To give you a rough estimate, it’s about 6c per mile on interstate roads and around 13c per mile on non-interstate toll roads.
The actual cost will depend on which toll road you drive, how far you go, how many axles your vehicle has (FYI, a passenger car is usually two-axle), and in some cases, what time or day you drive on the toll road.
And, of course, some toll roads cost more than others. Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike, for example, which has infamously claimed the title of the most expensive toll road in the world. Travel the entire turnpike, and you’ll have to fork out more than $112! About 26 cents per mile.
But don’t worry! The average toll price Americans pay is closer to $5. Whew!
Step Three: Hit the Road, Jack!
So you’ve set yourself up with Uproad (excellent choice!) Great! You’re ready to hit the road!
Experience the freedom of flying through smooth toll roads without the need to stop and discover what the US has to offer!
What are toll road charges used for?
Where does toll road money go? Well, mostly the revenue goes towards paying for the maintenance and upkeep of toll roads. The truth is - toll roads are never really paid off. As long as we keep driving cars, roadways will continue to degrade, so toll funds are continually needed to maintain and upgrade the roads.
What happens if you don’t pay a toll?
The consequence of not paying for a toll road can be costly. The actual cost will be slightly different state by state.You’ll receive a bill in the mail which you need to pay quickly to avoid a hefty late fee.
Don’t let us say we tolled you so! Save yourself the stress and drive toll roads with ease.