Avoid privacy concerns by ensuring that protecting legislation is in place prior to implementing tolling technologies.
The Washington State Department of Transportation’s experience with planning for tolling implementation.
Made Public Date


United States

Washington State Comprehensive Tolling Study: Final Report – Volume 2: Background Paper #8: Toll Technology Considerations, Opportunities, and Risks


The comprehensive tolling study conducted by Cambridge Systematics for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) set out to provide recommendations to guide Washington as it develops toll facilities in the State. These policies emerged from background research and technical analysis.

The Washington State tolling study describes different types of electronic toll collection (ETC) methods, how they are applied to various toll facilities, note lessons learned from past experiences, and identifies the advantages and disadvantages of each. Furthermore, the study addresses institutional issues relating back office operations and enforcement processes.

Lessons Learned

Issues regarding privacy continue to be a common public concern with the use of tolling technologies. As a result, it is crucial that legislation be enacted, ensuring that user privacy be protected to the best of the agencies abilities. There are several lessons from the Washington experience that can help to insure privacy of the participating public while not diminishing the ability of the technology to perform as intended. These can be legislatively mandated at the outset to protect privacy.

  • Use monitoring photographs for enforcement purposes only
    In Washington State, toll payment monitoring photographs may only be used for toll enforcement purposes and must then be destroyed. Additionally, under the public disclosure act, an agency cannot provide any lists of names to a requestor seeking to use the list for commercial purposes. This provides some protection from the commercial use of information about those who purchase transponders for their vehicles.
  • Disclose personal information in aggregate form only
    Washington code states further that: personally identifying information of persons who acquire and use transponders or other technology to facilitate payment of tolls, may be disclosed in aggregate form as long as the data does not contain any personally identifying information, and that such information may be released to law enforcement agencies only for toll enforcement purposes.

It is likely that privacy concerns will remain a significant public concern, making it necessary for agencies to work with lawmakers to continue to evaluate whether sufficient protections exist for citizens who want to reduce their vulnerability to tracking by government agencies or others. By ensuring that privacy concerns are being addressed, implementing agencies will help bolster public perceptions of tolling technologies, and thereby address the ITS goal of customer satisfaction.