Truck drivers could see discounts on Texas tollways

Transportation companies that send drivers through the state of Texas for pickups and deliveries may find their routes could get a little less expensive over the coming year. The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) has voiced support for a plan that would reduce tolls for truck drivers taking segments of State Highway 130 and State Highway 45SE through March 30, 2014. 

Proposal extension waiting on approval 
The proposal would work as part of an effort to eliminate common traffic congestion on Interstate 35 and free up some of the state's busiest roads. Drivers would pay only the passenger vehicle rate to travel on portions of these tollways, giving trucks with four or more axles a discount of more than 67 percent. This can result in significant savings for drivers who are regularly in the area.

Texas lawmakers initially implemented this plan as a temporary, monthlong solution. The cheaper tolls for truck drivers ended on March 3, but during the trial period truck traffic shifted significantly and the discounted portions of State Highways 130 and 45SE saw truck use increase by about 50 percent, according to the Texas DOT. 

"By getting some of our big rigs off I-35, we are making Central Texas roads safer," said Phil Wilson, executive director of the Texas DOT. "Moreover, people driving on I-35 will see some most-needed congestion relief, which is going to help them get to and from work easier and improve their quality of life. At the end of the year we will have a full set of data to see the cost/benefits and look for other opportunities to extend."

Even though this plan is still waiting on final approval from the Texas Transportation Commission, it could greatly benefit companies that have drivers completing deliveries and pickups in Texas frequently. A final decision is set to be made at the end of the month. 

Other ways to reduce business expenses 
While some transportation companies may be eager to enjoy the benefits associated with reduced tollway charges, there are other ways they can enjoy cost savings once the yearlong plan is over or if it fails to win the approval of the Texas Transportation Commission. 

One of the simplest and most efficient ways for a trucking company to save more money is through the use of vehicle routing software, which can help fleet managers determine which paths are the most direct for a driver to use, allowing a company to cut fuel expenses and limit waste. This also allows drivers to stay on track and ensure they make all scheduled pickups and deliveries according to schedule. 

Companies can also use route optimization software for other purposes. Management teams that have become accustomed to paying lower tolls or looking to avoid them whenever possible can use routing software to plan driver paths that are both time efficient and make optimal use of the reduced tollways in Texas, or bypass tolls entirely. This can help companies save on gas or diesel expenses as well as toll costs.