Don’t tailgate and more tips to avoid RFID hassle at tollways

Published February 23, 2021, 1:09 PM

by Inigo Roces

More and more motorists are now equipped with RFIDs and even more expressways are opening up. In spite, of this problems at tollgates continue to be an issue. Yet you’d be surprised how many of these issues can be avoided altogether.

If you frequently run into issues at expressways, we have some helpful tips for you that may speed up your travel time and possibly even avoid these unintended delays.

  • Download the apps to monitor your balance

Maintaining balance can be a bit challenging. It’s especially difficult if your only way of finding out is by glimpsing the brief digital display just as you pass the tollgate.

Don’t worry as both Easytrip and Autosweep have an easier and more reliable way to check your balance, even if you’re not in your car. This requires an internet or data connection.

The easiest way is to download the mobile app. Both operators have an app you can download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The first time you run the app, you’ll have to register with an email and cellphone number.  

We recommend finding your copy of the application form or receipt, and RFID card as these details will be asked. This step is very critical as it’s important to put the email and phone number you gave when first getting your RFID sticker. Registration will only be successful if they match. Once successful, you can begin registering  your vehicle and RFID tag. Once registered, your balance will be displayed. The app even provides you options to reload whether via credit card, certain banks, or electronic payment means.

  • Maintain P1,000 balance

The easiest way to avoid hassle, especially an insufficient balance error, is to maintain a higher balance. We recommend keeping at least P1,000 balance per RFID. Granted, many toll operators will say there is no minimum balance required. However, it’s much more prudent to put a large amount.

We recommend P1,000 because this amount is more than enough to pay for an end-to-end roundtrip with a little extra to spare. This is crucial because, in the event of an accidental double deduction or error, you will likely still have money to pay for the farthest toll.

In addition, tollways will begin counting three-strikes per car soon. Get more than three strikes of insufficient balance and you may face a heftier fine or possibly even traffic citation which may put a demerit on your license.

Keeping a large balance reduces the likelihood of this happening. And while unintended deductions or double deductions may happen, it’s easier to argue with the operators to have this corrected rather than having the deduction AND the low balance strike corrected at the same time.

  • Bring the cards with you

Another crucial mistake many motorists make is to leave behind the cards. These tollway cards are crucial, especially now that bugs in the system are still being worked out. They serve as a backup in case the RFID stickers cannot be read. As such, it’s a good idea to always keep them in the car. Some cars will have slots just for tollway cards like these. Or they can be stored in the center console or glove compartment.

If you’re worried these might be stolen or lost if the car is ever broken into, there’s another way to always have these cards with you. If your car uses a keyless system, attach a rubber / plastic ID protector to the keychain. These devices are the perfect size for the RFID cards. Opt for clear, uncolored ones as they can still be easily scanned without having to be removed. They can be found in any convenience store or online marketplace.

  • Keep your windshield and headlights clean

Sensors at tollgates can read these stickers via radio signal. However, sometimes dust and dirt can still interfere with the signal. As such, always keep the area where the stickers are attached clean. Use a damp cloth to wipe the area before you drive.

If your sticker is on the windshield, don’t leave metallic objects on the dashboard as this may interfere with the signal. If your sticker is on the headlight, avoid attaching car accessories with metallic parts near it. Keeping these areas clean and clear will increase the likelihood of the sticker being read properly.

  • Don’t tailgate
Keep distance from the car ahead at tollgates.

Easily the most useful tip is to keep distance from the car ahead of you, especially at the tollgates. The RFID sensors have a very long range and can even read the RFID of a car while it’s moving. As such, avoid complications by keeping distance from the car ahead of you.

By following this, you decrease the chance of the sensor accidentally deducting from your RFID instead of the car ahead of you. This is the reason why many motorists report double deductions. It’s likely because they tailgated at the toll.

Observe the stop sign.

You’ll notice that many tollgates have a sign that reads, “Don’t tailgate. Wait here.” This is a handy guide of where to stop. Keep that in mind, be patient, and wait your turn. Keep 2 car-lengths distance. The best time to roll forward is when the car has cleared the gate and concrete dividers, or when the barrier has fallen back down.

By following this distance, you ensure that there is only one RFID sticker within the sensor’s area and decrease the likelihood of a read error.

Be patient

These are just a few tips we recommend to avoid troubles at the toll gates. It may be sometime before all the bugs are worked out. However if you meticulously maintain a high balance, keep the stickers clean, and don’t tailgate, you can avoid a number of problems when passing through these expressways.