Collecting tolls to pay for road maintenance has a long history, dating back to the Roman Empire. In Britain during the 18th century, private companies were allowed to build toll roads with an Act of Parliament. People and goods were exempt from paying tolls, while carts carrying coal away from mines paid lower tolls than those carrying other products. Historians have argued that improvements in transportation, along with reduced taxes on coal and manure, contributed to the growth of the industry at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The American Institute for Transportation Research (ATRI) recently released a report on how much money tolls generate and how much is reinvested in them.
New York and Massachusetts also have differential tolls depending on the size of the vehicle, but transport trucks predominate on their highways. The research method was unable to identify a particular segment of the road transport industry that is more likely than another to pay tolls. According to the report, 71.2% of truck trips on Oklahoma Toll Highway Authority highways were made “through trips”, meaning trips in which trucks traveled around the state without a trip ending or starting in the state. This outreach provided information and helped develop survey tools for the next phases of data collection; a web-based electronic survey was distributed to a wide range of trucking industry and trucking interests; truck drivers were interviewed at trade shows in the sector. Policymakers will face opposition from the road transport industry in any debate about expanding toll funding policies or on individual proposals for toll roads. Tolled interstate highways could have a negative impact on trucking industries, as well as on businesses and customers who purchase these transportation products.
The report analyzes the value that carriers, transportation companies and truck drivers are looking for on toll roads. An ideal combination of gas taxes and tolls would pay for road construction costs and encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, while allowing public transportation and commercial trucks to travel quickly. While tolls can help improve highways and raise funds to build new ones, truck drivers believe that tolls have a negative impact on their efficiency. The Arkansas Trucking Association has opposed tolls as a source of infrastructure funding and has cited new research that studies 21 toll systems, representing about 81.7% of the entire United States. High transport truck tolls in Ontario contribute to their use primarily by passenger cars, but if rebalanced, they could encourage larger vehicles to use the road and help ease the stagnation that hampers Toronto's grocery stores and manufacturing. Exactly how toll roads affect truck drivers and what can be done about tolls is an ongoing debate in the trucking industry. The impact of tolls on commercial trucks is an important issue for policymakers, businesses, customers, and truck drivers alike.
It is essential to understand how different types of vehicles are affected by different types of tolls in order to ensure that all stakeholders are fairly represented.