Tuesday 13th November 2012


Camera tech used to replace Dartford toll-booths will be designed for rollout across the country

One of the main barriers to national road tolls just got lifted with news that the 'free-flow' technology that will replace the booths at the M25 Dartford crossing will be developed for use across the UK.

That traffic-snarling impediment on the southside of the Thames crossing will be replaced in October 2014 with cameras that'll snap each passing vehicle, much like they do within the London congestion charge.

You'll go online to pay for each individual trip, or set up an account. Don't pay and you'll get a fine in the post, currently proposed at between £35 to £105 depending how quickly you pay.

This is great news for those using the crossing, if you can get over your anger that the tolls to pay for the 1991 bridge were supposed to be dropped in 2003.

Cameras will snap each licence plate
Cameras will snap each licence plate
But the camera tech won't just be used for Dartford, according to the Highways Agency. "We're seeking to future proof it to make sure if there were similar applications elsewhere they would be able to take the innovations and apply them," a spokesman told PistonHeads. "It would be a starting point."

The tender for the technology went out to private companies back in September, but it'll be owned by the Government to apply where they like, and without needing barriers or tags or any of the other expensive toll infrastructure you see on the Continent.

Road pricing is one of the proposals to replace the current VED, it emerged back in September, and the government is known to be mulling tolls to pay for the upgrading of roads such as the A14 in the east of England.

And just in case you're still thinking 'they wouldn't have the guts...', then the government has just released a consultation into the fines that would be levied if you drive past the cameras without paying. "One of the largest challenges in operating a barrier free or 'free-flow' operated road user charging scheme is gaining a high level of payment compliance," the consultation document notes. "Without both physical barriers and the provision to enforce, there would be little to ensure that road users complied."

So, of course, they're proposing fines, to the tune of £60, rising to £180 if you ignore their letters. According to the Highways Agency, foreign drivers who skip through would be chased by European debt collection agencies.

It certainly looks like charging is inevitable, which means we're all going to have to be very vigilant that any extra fees are accompanied by reductions elsewhere in the myriad taxes we pay.

Author: NickGibbs
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