Do Not Pass Go

Each and every day the perceived size of our world get smaller. Technology is enabling us to connect wherever we are and with anyone on the planet. Today, you don't put any thought into picking up the phone and calling a friend on the opposite side of the country, or world for that matter, but there was a time when that wasn't always possible. When the telephone first began making its way into households, the infrastructure used was very different than the one we know today. To connect the new devices each phone provider ran their own telephone lines to their customers, and only their customers. Two neighbors, with two different carriers, were unable to call each other. Carrier A had its lines and equipment, Carrier B had its own, and they weren't talking or sharing. Each provider wanted the most customers possible, and if your mom was on a different network, you had a reason to switch so you could talk, but if her carrier didn't service your area you were out of luck.

Eventually, the U.S. government decided that allowing you to talk to your mother-in-law despite where she lived was integral to the betterment of society; even if it meant the widespread formation of ulcers for husbands everywhere. To solve the issues created by different providers having different networks, the government consolidated the telephone industry and allowed the formation of one large monopoly that would create a standardized network and allow telephone owners to talk to anyone else with a phone. And whether you're happy that your mother-in-law can call anytime she wants or not, few will disagree with the importance and benefit this standardization has created.

Similarly, the trucking industry is finding itself going through the same issues that the early telephone industry faced. But instead of facing a lack of interoperability among phone carriers, they're facing issues created by a segmented electronic toll payment system. Toll road providers have no standardization for the system they use for electronic toll payments, and a trucker who drives coast to coast, may have half a dozen different transponders they need to carry in order to navigate the various toll road systems they travel. Because of this lack of standardization, most fleets are forced to decide between one of three options: 1) Avoid toll roads, possibly extending the distance and time required to make their deliveries, 2) Stop and pay tolls with cash, requiring drivers to stop and wait in line at toll booths, extending drive time and requiring time consuming driver reimbursements or 3) purchase a wide selection of electronic toll passes.

Just as a standardized phone network or central currency, was created to promote commerce and eliminate exclusion, a standardized system for toll collection is important to the continued advancement of our transportation industry. Fleets and toll road providers both benefit from a standardized network. Truck drivers can eliminate costly time delays caused by re-routing to avoid toll roads or time spent waiting in toll queues, while toll providers can benefit from increased traffic on their roads and reduced staffing needs to man toll booths.

By working together and communicating with industry and government leaders, we can eliminate the roadblocks fleets face from a lack of interoperability among toll road payment systems. Don't be afraid to participate in the discussion with your representatives and share the impacts that a non-standardized system has on your fleet.

This entry was posted on December 17th, 2012 by jhubbard and is filed under Recent News & Updates.