Road Tolling in a Repulic of Equals - Part 2

Last week I said that there is simply no fair or equitable place to put a toll. Some drivers will pay tens of thousands of euros over a lifetime to use very little motorway while others may use more motorway over a lifetime and pay nothing. This is not fair. It is a form of ‘location discrimination’ and a double tax. This week I will highlight the safety and stress aspect of road tolling.

Last week I said that there is simply no fair or equitable place to put a toll.  Some drivers will pay tens of thousands of euros over a lifetime to use very little motorway while others may use more motorway over a lifetime and pay nothing.  This is not fair.  It is a form of ‘location discrimination’ and a double tax.  This week I will highlight the safety and stress aspect of road tolling.

Safety

Toll plazas add to commute times by slowing down and/or stopping traffic.  They also cause accidents.  I’m not saying that toll plazas are death traps.  But it seems obvious that risk of accidents would be higher with all that de-accelerating, accelerating, looking for coins and lane jiving.  Statistics are hard to come by.  But I found some data from the USA.  The chart below shows 4 years of aggregate accident data for 11 plazas in New Jersey.

http://www.jimpady.com/endtolls/images/cat_acc.gif

I can summarise the above chart using kilometres and round numbers.

You are almost 5 times as likely to be in a collision within 320m of a toll plaza as you would on the ordinary motorway.  A toll user is more likely to have his/her wing scrapped or his/her headlamp busted than a people that don’t face tolls on their daily commute.

Clearly the government is treating toll users unfairly yet again.  With so many rules on health and safety it is a wonder that the Road Safety Authority has not shut down toll plazas.

Stress

If you are a frequent victim of toll booths you have to do a number of extra little things in life.  You may always need the right coins to hand in your car.  Alternatively you will have to invest a little time fiddling online with electronic tag companies.

Many older people are unfamiliar with online services.  For them the M50 toll is a living nightmare.  They are forced to pay manually before 8pm the following day or face a penalty.  The M50 costs a lot more than €3.10 to them.  We have people in their 70s and 80s making telephone calls with their credit card in their hand trying to pay an M50 toll.  The government just doesn’t appear to care enough or at all about this.

SOLUTION

As I said last week a ready-made solution is to hand.  It is not difficult.  The road toll companies can and should be paid their fees.  However, the fees should be paid by the government.  99.9% of our road network is paid for directly by government.  The M1 should be paid for the same way we pay for the M9 to Waterford.

All that is required is the political will to act.  That political will begins with YOU dear reader!  Too many in our community are quick to complain and reluctant to act.  Don’t be one of them.

Help us!

Article Author
John Kierans

John Kierans is from Drogheda and lives with his wife and four children in Termonfeckin. John is a self employed stockbroker based in Drogheda. His company started in 1998 in the trading pits of the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) in Dublin and New York. John is a former national Decathlon champion and holds 2 national masters records set in Britain and Austria in 2003.