THE AUTOBAHN, the freeway network in Germany, is no longer free for medium and heavy trucks. A new Toll Collect system was scheduled to begin at the first of the year, after more than a year of testing the technical aspects of the toll collection system. This is not a matter of setting up toll booths, which would impede traffic flow. The automatic system is designed to calculate the distance-related tax with the most modern technology.
The toll does not apply to trucks under 12 tonnes GVW (26,460 lb), at least for now. This has prompted truck chassis builders, body builders, and trailer manufacturers to reduce tare weight. A number of these designs to avoid the MAUT or truck toll were presented at the IAA exhibition in Hanover in late September.
For truck fleets that are regular users of the Autobahn, individual trucks are equipped with an on-board unit (OBU) that calculates the taxable distance traveled on the Autobahn. The OBU figures in the vehicle emissions class and the number of axles in calculating the tax.
Foreign trucks and occasional users of the Autobahn can log onto the system manually at one of the 3,500 Toll Collect terminals at motorway entrances and filling stations in Germany and neighboring countries. Registered users also can log onto the system via the Internet.
Enforcement of the toll regulations is the responsibility of the German Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG). It has installed some 300 control gantries that detect approaching trucks, determine if they are over 12 tonnes GVW, determine if they have logged onto the system manually or automatically, and then record the license plate by infra-red sensing.
The gantries are installed along 24,000 km (15,000 miles) of the Autobahn — that is, 12,000 km (7,500 miles) in each direction. The motorway map has been divided into 5,300 route segments for figuring the tax. The gantry scanners are supplemented by GPS global positioning of the OBU and by dead reckoning via the odometer or tachograph.
Around 300 vehicles with mobile BAG teams enforce correct payment of road tolls by patrolling 24 hours a day. In both the automatic and the mobile enforcement methods, trucks are checked while they are traveling on the toll road without interrupting traffic flow. If there is any doubt about proper payment of the toll, the vehicle is stopped at a parking area or motorway exit. Enforcement officers are authorized to collect a fine immediately. BAG officers also make on-site company inspections.
More information can be obtained on the Internet at www.toll-collect.de or at the company headquarters, fax +49 30 74077-2211. Toll Collect GmbH, D-10875 Berlin, Germany.