How to Approach Toll Management: 5 Tips for Fleet Managers

How to Approach Toll Management: 5 Tips for Fleet Managers

Fleet managers have to deal with many ongoing expenses. Fuel and maintenance are the most obvious and often some of the highest, but they’re not the only repeated costs to consider. Fleets must also think about tolls.

There are more than 100 toll roads in the U.S., covering more than 5,000 miles. Any fleet that operates across multiple states will likely have to deal with them at some point. Fleets should adopt a defined toll management approach if they’re a regular expense. Here are five tips for making the most of such a strategy.

1. Use Transponders

One of the most straightforward but effective ways to optimize toll management is to use transponders instead of cash. Several states are eliminating cash toll plazas entirely, but they’re often the better choice even where transponders are optional.

Cash transactions take more time and require additional overhead from highway authorities. Consequently, many toll roads and bridges offer lower rates for transponder users to encourage more drivers to use them. Installing transponders in your fleet will also help drivers avoid traffic at toll plazas, leading to more efficient routes and decreasing fuel spend.

Some toll systems offer volume discounts for prepaid transponders. Look into programs in areas your fleet drives through often to see if you may qualify for any of these discounts.

2. Avoid Peak Hours

Another way to improve toll management is to schedule routes around peak traffic hours on toll roads. Many of these highways change their rates depending on how much traffic they usually see at a given time. For example, the George Washington Bridge in New York is $2 more expensive during peak hours.

That difference may not seem like much, but it can add up over time. Fleets can avoid these higher rates by planning routes so drivers only hit toll roads during off-peak hours. These adjustments aren’t always possible, but it’s worth looking into.

3. Use AI to Your Advantage

Calculating the best times to leave and the best routes to take to minimize tolls can be complicated. Thankfully, you can turn over these complex calculations to automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) route planning can weigh multiple factors to automatically come up with the most affordable, efficient route for each drive.

Sometimes, it’s best to route drivers through different areas, as some states like Arizona have no toll roads or charge lower fees. At others, taking a toll road during off-peak hours may be more economical to get drivers to their destination faster. AI can calculate real-time factors to account for this variability, giving you the best route every time.

4. Look for Errors

Another easy-to-overlook best practice for fleet management is to review billing statements for errors. Transponders are handy, but they’re not always accurate. Misreads and misclassification can result in bills up to 60% higher than they should be.

Always go over billing statements in detail, and keep records of your own for reference. If something seems out of place, look into it. Finding and disputing billing errors could save you a lot of money.

Keep in mind that some errors can come from your own operations. Ensure drivers don’t switch transponders between vehicles, as this could result in the system misclassifying them, potentially raising their rates.

5. Consolidate Your Data

If you follow all these steps, you’ll have a lot of information on your hands. Consolidating that data into a single platform where you can see it all in context is simple but crucial. Managing tolls and routes could take far more time than it needs if you don’t.

A fleet with 100 vehicles can spend 16 hours a month on toll management. A system to consolidate related data and automate basic tasks will help reduce that time, letting employees focus on other, more pressing work.

Better Toll Management Will Save You Time and Money

Toll management can significantly affect a fleet’s efficiency and profitability. These five steps will help any fleet reduce its toll spending and find the most cost-effective routes for each trip. You can then operate as efficiently as possible without fear of unexpected expenses.

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