Car drivers receive invoices for Rhode Island’s truck-only tolls

December 16, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Some passenger vehicle drivers in Rhode Island got a taste of the trucking life after being charged for the state’s truck-only toll.

Land Line has confirmed with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation that nearly 2,000 truck-only toll charges were issued to passenger vehicles. Last week, Jim Hummel of The Providence Journal exposed the issue after his E-ZPass bill showed charges for driving through a truck toll gantry.

Hummel was not the only one. However, the problem appears to be relatively minor.

Rhode Island’s truck-only tolls began in June 2018. Out of a total of 19 million transactions since then, 1,787 were charged to passenger vehicles. RIDOT points out that is a 0.009% error rate.

Although nearly 2,000 transactions were executed, most affected E-ZPass customers never had to pay the charge. Charges were automatically credited back to most accounts. RIDOT said less than 400 transactions resulted in the customer owing money.

Owners of passenger vehicles do not necessarily need an E-ZPass transponder to get the truck-only toll charge.

According to RIDOT, the error is coming from the video tolling system. If a car is traveling too close to a truck when driving past a gantry, the video equipment may tag the passenger vehicle’s license plate instead of the truck.

RIDOT is working with the software provider and expects to resolve the problem soon. The nearly 400 reported erroneous transactions that were paid have been reimbursed.

Now that the transaction errors are publicly known, there are questions about the efficacy of the truck-only toll systems. The effects of the error are minimal and narrow in scope. However, knowledge of the error raises questions about the toll system’s reliability and potentially unknown erroneous charges.

The truck-only tolls were controversial before they even began. Trucking industry stakeholders immediately called the tolls unconstitutional. A lawsuit against RIDOT filed by the American Trucking Associations is currently awaiting an opinion from the First Circuit Court of Appeals. LL