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Tolling Points

Capitalizing on the Summer Driving Season News Cycle

Bill Cramer

As summer comes to an official close with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate the holiday by traveling to their favorite beach, family picnic or other popular destination.  And if it’s anything like the last major holiday weekend, our roads and highways will feel the burn.

This past Fourth of July, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that a staggering 41.9 millions Americans journeyed at least 50 miles or more from home to celebrate the holiday weekend.  In less than a decade, that is an increase of more than 7 million travelers as compared to those traveling for Independence Day getaways in 2006. 

Even more impressive is how travelers are getting to their final destinations.  According to the same analysis compiled by AAA, 84.7% of those 41.9 million Fourth of July travelers were relying on America’s roads and highways to get them where they wanted to go.  That is over 35 million drivers, also known as potential toll authority customers!

Every year throughout the various holiday seasons, the American public has become accustomed to hearing about AAA’s consumer-based travel estimates.  Like clockwork, as a busy holiday travel season approaches the news media and consumers become interested in hearing the numbers.  Are they up or are they down?  Will falling gas prices increase the number of travelers or will the still sluggish economy keep them at home? 

This summer, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) has taken advantage of the news cycle created around the release of these travel estimates by also releasing it’s own data, 2015 Report on Tolling in the U.S.  After all, if 35 million Americans were deciding to jump in the car to drive on America’s roads, bridges and tunnels, then they should at least know the advantages they would get by choosing to travel on the 5,932 miles of tolled roads throughout the country.  

Benefits such as:

·       Three times lower fatality rate on toll roads than on non-tolled roads, which was one of the reasons Yahoo! News’ Autos Blog suggested their readers “consider taking toll roads” as one of the steps for a “pain-free family road trip”. 

·       “New technologies in the tolling industry, including all-electronic tolling, that makes travel easier” according to the Washington Post story, “More Americans Choosing to Take the Toll”, written on the release of IBTTA’s 2015 Tolling Report.

·       Improved Traffic Flow, which the trade publication,, reported about in their story on the report’s release, “More choose toll roads for safety, improved traffic flow”.

Capitalizing on an already existing news cycle is one way the tolling industry can continue to communicate a positive message by making it relatable to millions of Americans.  There’s a great story to tell about the benefits of tolling and with an increasing number of Americans continuing to hit the road to travel to their favorite holiday destinations, IBTTA will be there to make sure that both the news media and American public stay informed about the great value tolling provides. 

Brad Luna and Kristofer Eisenla are the founders of LUNA+EISENLA media, a strategic media and communications firm based in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, PA, and serve as media and communications consultants to IBTTA.



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