Monthly Archives: January 2005

Motorway toll system started

The first blog entry in the new year deserves a special topic. What could suit better than the start of Toll Collect, the German motorway toll system. It started today with a delay of over one year and is according to various news sources finally working. From today onwards, trucks and other vehicles with a weight of more than 12 tons have to pay a fee for using the German motorways, also known as “die Autobahn”. This fee depends on the number of axles on the truck, ranging from EUR 0.09 to EUR 0.14 per kilometre. The picture above was taken at the border crossing from the Netherlands to Germany at Aachen, called “BG Vetschau, Bundesgrenze” in the official “Mauttabelle” list. This new sign is now in place, concealing completely the sign in the background where the speed limits in Germany were shown. I am really anxious to see what now happens with the speed limit sign.

Toll collect works with the help of the Global Positioning System (GPS). When the drive starts, the position is detected and when it ends the so-called OBU (onboard unit) calculates the distance driven and the costs. These data are then sent via a GSM mobile phone network to Toll Collect who then charge the transportation company. “Toll bridges” also check via videocameras whether the trucks passing by are registered properly with Toll Collect. The whole system reminds me of the APRS system used for amateur radio, which works (since many years already) the same way, only instead of the GSM network an amateur radio channel is used (and there are no bridges, of course). See this site for a sample map and more information about APRS.

I think it will only be a matter of time when the Toll Collect system will also be used for normal cars, either for imposing a toll or for other purposes like speed controls, tracking of (stolen) cars and so on…