With today’s announcement that Gauteng’s eToll project will go live on the 3rd of December, it will become illegal to travel on an eToll route without paying. Many will be asking what’s necessary to comply with the new law, and the answer is quite simple: pay your eToll fees.

The overhead gantries installed on Gauteng’s freeways have sensors and camera systems that detect the cars driving under them. The cameras can read number plates, and motorists who don’t have eTags will receive their toll statements by post. Those charges will also be at full price. That’s why SANRAL is encouraging users to register for eTags: discounts apply for all eTag holders. To keep things easy, here are the five things you need to know about eTags, before tolling starts in December.

1) eTags are free

When you register for an eTag, you pay R50. But that amount is credited to your account, and used as prepaid funds for the toll roads. Essentially, then, the R50 you paid to get an eTag are just toll fees, making the device free. There’s no other expensive registration fee or buy-in fees to use the toll roads.

When you buy your tag you can register it on the phone or at an eToll kiosk. This will require a copy of your ID or driver’s license, as well as your vehicle’s registration details.

2) Discounts are big

If you have an eTag you’re eligible for lower toll fees – to the tune of 48%. The fee schedule on SANRAL’s website shows that toll fees for the various gantries are between R1.16 and R8.12, for normal users in regular passenger vehicles. Those fees drop to between 60c and R4.20, per toll gantry, for eTag users. If you’re going to get a bill anyway, it might as well be a lower one.

There’s also a toll fee calculator that lets you plan your journey and determine what the costs would be both with and without an eTag. For example, those travelling from Centurion to Fourways during peak hours would pass through eight gantries, and pay a total of R45.50, without discount, for a return trip. With an eTag and applicable discounts the same trip will cost R23.53.

Additional discounts are also applied for travelling outside of peak hours. Travelling on public holidays costs up to 25% less.

3) Relatively maintenance free

Whenever you drive under a toll gantry, the eTag will beep to confirm that it’s been detected and your account charged. Other than that, there’s no maintenance needed. The batteries inside the eTag will last a few years before needing replacement. If the unit doesn’t beep, or beeps more than twice, there is a problem and SANRAL advises taking it in. It can also be set to beep twice when your account balance is running low.

The eTags are provided by the same Austrian company – Kapsch – that developed all the tolling gantries and cameras. The entire eToll system, from eTags, to gantries, to the billing software, has been developed by this company.

4) Payments have options

There are three ways to pay for eTolls with an eTag. The first is to simply load your account with credit, and top that up as you go along – similar to pay-as-you-go cellphone packages. This will require you to manage your account either at a SANRAL outlet, a retailer, or online.

The second is to have your credit card linked to your eToll account. With people already resisting the idea of paying for tolls, they might not be comfortable with SANRAL having easy access to their accounts – but it is an options. This method lets your credit card be used to top up your account when a threshold is reached.

The final option is to have SANRAL bill you daily, on your credit card. This might lead to charges racking up without you keeping track, or bank charges being incurred for multiple transactions.

5) One household, one account, multiple tags

SANRAL’s eToll system allows one online accountholder to have multiple eTags. This accounts for eventualities such as a household with two or more cars. Each car will still need its own eTag, but the payments for all those tags can be handled by one account – if you register all tags online.

Payments for multiple tags can also be handed in different ways. Each tag can be topped up individually using the prepaid system, or multiple tags can be topped up or associated with a single credit card using SANRAL’s online portal.

 

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.