Tuesday, March 30, 2010
If you're like most people, you don't carry a lot of cash, opting instead for the convenience of a debit card. This probably means you don't have much change on you at any given time. Normally, that's not a big deal since probably also don't live in an area with a lot of toll roads; I can't even tell you if there are any near me. Central Florida however, has a fair number of toll roads that can be a minor inconvenience or a big headache. While it may seem like a small thing, in Florida toll violations are considered moving violations. Run thru a toll booth without paying and you'll likely be fined up to $200 and receive points on your license. Repeat offenders risk losing their license. Look in the local phone book and you'll see a large number of Orlando attorneys specializing in toll booth violations. Who knew?
You'll encounter toll roads when you go from the airport to the Disney World resort area. While it's possible to avoid these roads, the few dollars you'll save hardly makes it worth taking a longer, more congested route. While you might be aware of these toll roads, it's the unexpected ones that can cause problems because not all tolll booths are manned, so you'll need change to pass thru them or face a fine.
One of the trickiest of these unmanned toll road situations is right outside of Disney World on Osceola Parkway. This main road, which you'll likely use if you drive on site, turns into a toll road with very little warning shortly after you cross I-4. I can't tell you how many times I've accidently found myself on this road, a couple of times without change for the toll booth, pitifully wondering if throwing a dollar bill in the basket would do the trick. After digging around in the rental car for a couple of minutes, I was "rescued" by an impatient but kind fellow traveler who came up behind me and tossed a couple of quarters into the net. That feeling of doom as I've come up to the toll booth, debating the merits of just running thru without paying just one time, is one I hope to avoid in the future. One small tip about this road: If you find yourself in this situation and you catch it in time, you can turn right and cross thru the massive Gaylord Palms resort complex and get out on Highway 192. That's the last turn before you hit the toll road.
Obviously, the trouble with toll booths can be avoided by simply carrying enough change with you. When you're making your packing list, just remember to bring a roll of quarters. And don't spend it on a Dole Whip once you get there either! Or, if you're renting a car, you can opt to get the EZ-Pass service with your rental car. This service, which has a sensor pays the toll for you as you drive thru, costs around $5 a day or up to $30 a week however, so it's probably not cost effective unless you're going to be doing a lot of off-site driving.
The toll booth situation is really a minor one, unless you're that person in your car vainly searching for change. Just remember your roll of quarters and maybe you'll be the impatient but kind person who helps out a fellow traveler on Osceola Parkway.