Snap! Now pay your road toll

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.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (102) Join the discussion on the forum

  • robinessex 13 Nov 2012

    bks !! Keep to the promise of making it free

  • cadoganpier 13 Nov 2012

    A good friend of mine worked for the company that is doing the cableing down the side of the M4 that has been going on for years, apparently that has the capacity to deal with toll cameras.

  • FWDRacer 13 Nov 2012

    Same as the ROI. This technology, whilst abhorrent to many has completely sorted the bottleneck over the Liffey on the M50.

    The tailbacks at the Dartford tunnel and crossing will be a thing of history - but how much would people be prepared to pay for that convenience? Yes, it should be a right - but once the fog has cleared on the rose tints, simple fact is that there are too many of us crammed onto this little island!

    Edited by FWDRacer on Tuesday 13th November 09:29

  • RemarkLima 13 Nov 2012

    Yeah, to get rid of the tolls on the Dartford Crossing would be a blessing - But by then the toll will be £5 each way at the rate it's increasing... Rather than actually just removing the tolls and being done with it!

    So, like all good news from the Govt, it's swiftly followed with a kick in the balls.

  • Wozy68 13 Nov 2012

    More lies then from the powers that be. Should have stopped the tolls back in 2003? Then why still tolls and now cameras.

    These toll (spy) camera will be on major roads over the next few years. It's so obvious they will.

    I really am struggling to see the point of residing in this or any other Western European country anymore.

    Waste money on everything else, so cut the armed forces and tax the motorist to claw the money back.

    Whatever happened to the enjoyment of driving and the freedom it gave? There are families up and down this country already that no longer have days out to the seaside etc because they can't afford the fuel.

    I can't believe for one second that this system would be cheaper. It can be classed as fairer (to get it through) but it will cost more to everyone in the longterm.

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