What is an ETC Card, and How Do We Use It?


ETC is a system which allows drivers to automatically pay tolls without stopping their vehicle at a toll booth.
The system uses wireless communication between ETC on-board equipment (OBE) installed in the vehicle and roadside device placed at the collection point. Facilities such as communication antennas are built by road administrators. The ETC on-board equipment (OBE) are available to the public through retailers. ETC cards are issued by credit card companies.

Background of ETC

The motorized society which developed in tandem with the establishment of toll roads has dynamically expanded our range of activities while enriching and coloring our daily lives.

However, traffic jams caused by the concentration of cars on convenient toll roads are increasing year by year.

Traffic jams are caused by saturated roads, which mean that jams can be resolved by increasing the flow of traffic.
Up until now, there have been active efforts to widen roads in order to alleviate traffic jams but these initiatives soon reached their limit, bringing about the need for a fundamental system reform of toll roads.

This marked the beginning of the ETC project.

ETC = Electronic Toll Collection System

Characteristics of Japan's ETC System

Toll roads in Japan are operated and administrated by multiple toll road companies.

There are also various fee systems such as flat rate fees, distance fees, etc.

However, as the system is unified and used nationwide, there is no inconvenience to users wherever they go.

Less Stress Driving

Less Stress Driving in Japan with ETC

Eliminating traffic jams at toll gates brings many benefits in addition to relieving driver’s stress.

For example, fuel consumption can be improved since vehicles do not have to repeatedly stop & go at toll road entrances and exits, ultimately contributing to the reduction of noise around toll gates and the emission of exhaust gases.

Furthermore, the reduction of emission gas (CO2) directly links to the prevention of global warming.
ETC removes the stress borne from traffic jams and is also a system that contributes to society and the planet in a variety of ways.

Pass Through Toll Gates Smoothly

Pass Through Smoothly Through Toll Gates

Through wireless communication between the in-vehicle device and the toll gate antenna, cars are able to drive through toll gates without stopping (at speeds below approximately 20 km/h).

Tolls are payable in arrears by credit card.
The system is available on roads with flat rates as well as on roads with rates calculated according to distance.

ETC is a standardized Japan nationwide system.

Causes of Traffic Jams


Traffic jams occurring on toll roads (Research by NEXCO East/ Central/ West)

According to a study of traffic congestion on toll roads, heaviest congestion occurs near toll gates, where cars make a brief stop to pay the toll.

Thus, the primary cause of traffic jams can be eliminated by creating a system that allows cars to drive through toll gates without stopping.

This situation led to the commencement of the development of ETC.

In the 10 years since research began on ETC in 1993 ETC has evolved into a system that is now available on almost all toll roads across the nation.

According to research, the increase in ETC use at toll booths on main roads has contributed to a significant reduction in the number and location of traffic jams.