The term 'toll' is derived from the Gothic, and means, more or less, tax. A fair motorway toll should take into consideration the following parametres: - the amount of kilometres driven,- the number of the axles and their loads,- the type of the roads used,- pollutant emission.
With the new detection system all these values are taken into consideration for the calculation of motorway tax. At the moment for the approx. 12,000 km long motorway network, and only for utility vehicles having a gross weight rating of 12 tons or more. For the near future a distingtion is made between two possible modes of detection: -Electronic detection and payment by account,-Direct payment at a terminal.
In the case of the automatic detection, an On-Board-Unit (input and communication device) is installed in the vehicle. In the device, all data important for the calculation, e.g., the number of the axles, is stored. The route, and thus the kilometers driven on toll-roads is calculated through GPS and then sent per mobile radio communication to the Toll-Collect data processing center. Checking is done by stationary communication devices in the many control bridges (see above figure), and also by specially equiped toll offence checking vehicles to ensure that the OBUs are switched on, or that the tour is registered. If not, the number plate is electronically noted. The utility vehicles are recognised by their contours. In the future the system can be expanded, perhaps to encompass all vehicles. Of course the invoicing with the haulage contractor also occurs electronically.
Drivers without OBUs must log in on the internet or use the terminals (e.g., in motorway service areas) to input their data accordingly and to pay. This process becomes awkward if, because of a traffic jam, another route must be selected. For this reason, in the meantime, more than 85% settle their accounts through the OBU. With the new software, the OBU receives all further updates by mobile radio. Thereby, flexible rates, new connection points and additional toll-roads also become possible. The price per kilometre amounts, by the way, to about 15 cents/km. (at the time of the toll introduction in 2005)
It remains to be seen, how much truck traffic will avoid the motorways in favour of the federal roads. One could however, build up a similar, albeit uneconomical system for the federal roads, there are however, still a number of individual questions being asked, e.g. what should happen with local haulage contractors who do not avoid the motorways. The latest (2005) particle-dust debate can lead to restrictions in the urban areas. If the increasing mobility proceeds at the expected rate, all traffic movements will probably be registered and electronically evaluated sometime in the future.
The system would have a worldwide market however, only if the maintenance costs can be lowered. Currently, almost a quarter of the income from the toll is necessary for its maintenance. 10/09