You should pay at the toll gates…

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 9, 2017Style
You should pay at the toll gates…

Crossing a toll booth is always a bit of a bother, but this minor annoyance can become a major source of anxiety if you realize you’re fresh out of cash. Rest assured, though, that you’re not the first person to encounter this problem, and there’s a system in place to deal with situations like yours. If you’re still nervous about this ever happening to you, find out ahead of time what the procedure is like and how it can be resolved.

Here are 10 steps you should do to solve this problem:

  1. Pull over in a safe manner. If there’s a generous shoulder on the side of the road, and you can reach this zone without impeding other drivers, pull over before entering the toll booth in order to search for change.
    • If there’s nowhere to pull over safely, skip this step. You can look for change once you’re stopped at the toll booth, or you can just move on with the procedure.
  2.  Search for loose change in your car or wallet. Check your pockets, dashboard, and center console to make sure you don’t have any change handy for the toll. If you scrape together enough change, you won’t have to go through the longer process of mailing in your payment later.
  3. Identify a live representative. Many toll booth zones have several booths, only one or a few of which are inhabited by a live representative. Since you need to speak with someone about your situation, scan the available toll booths and select one where you can see an employee inside.
    • Occasionally—often at night or in isolated areas—you will encounter a toll zone with no live officials at all. In this case, drive through automated toll booth locations and allow the automated system to take a picture of your license plate. The citation/bill will be mailed to you.
  4. Drive up to the toll booth as you normally would. Rather than obsessing over your lack of money and worrying about what the operator will say, concentrate on steering safely and pulling up to the booth. Studies have shown that there are more accidents on toll roads, so it’s much more important that you pay attention and stay safe in this scenario than worrying about finding change and avoiding embarrassment.
    • Keep an eye out for specific safety bulletins and speed limits posted at the toll zone. Some places stipulate very low speed limits in these zones, while others are less strict, so you should always approach them on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Inform the toll booth operator of your situation. Speak clearly and concisely so that neither the toll operator nor fellow drivers feel unduly delayed by your problem.
    • Being a toll booth operator can be a difficult and monotonous job, so be sure to address the toll booth operator with a polite and apologetic tone.
  6. Stay calm and ignore pushy drivers behind you. Once you’re dealing with the official toll booth operator, you are in their hands and have no choice but to wait patiently until the process is completed. Impatient drivers might honk their horns or shout, but you should stay focused and attentive to the toll official.
    • This probably won’t take long, but it all depends on the operator and specific circumstances. The toll booth operator may need to exit the booth in order to record your license plate and ask for your driver’s license, but they might instead just make a quick note and wave you through.
    • You might be asked to pull over to a nearby shoulder so that you don’t continue to block traffic. In this case, the operator will walk over to your car once they have filled out the requisite forms.
  7. Listen to the operator’s instructions. The operator will let you know what you need to do in order to pay at a later date.
    • Sometimes the operator gives you Deferred Toll Payment Request Form to take home and fill out.
    • If the attendant doesn’t give you a form to take with you, you should keep an eye out for a notice in your mailbox. A bill for the toll price should arrive within a few weeks, and you should pay as soon as you receive it.
  8. Thank the operator and exit safely. Just as you entered the toll booth zone following normal protocol, you should exit the booth as if you had paid the toll. Observe all posted speed limits and cautions while keeping a careful eye on surrounding drivers.
  9. Fill out required paperwork and pay the toll. If the attendant gave you a Deferred Toll Payment Request form, you can pay the missed toll as soon as you get home. You can pay by posting a check or credit card payment to the indicated address, or via an online payment portal. Just make sure to do so in a timely manner, as late payments will incur an additional fee.
  10. Follow up with the tollway if you don’t receive a notice. If you were expecting a ticket in the mail but haven’t received one after two to three weeks, contact the agency