M25 Dartford crossing: Millions of motorists face fines as crossing prepares to switch from toll-bridge to 'free flow' system

Maximum fine for drivers is £105 as all payments become remote

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The Independent Online

The Dartford crossing toll-bridge on the M25 will enter into a new “free flow” system on 30 November, where the toll-bridge payments will be scrapped in favour of a new traffic congestion reducing online payment system.

The change from toll-payments to a new system called the Dart Charge has been hailed by the Highways Agency as a way to reduce congestion at Britain’s busiest toll.

But a new fine system means drivers can incur a maximum charge of £105 for failing to pay the £2.50 toll.

The standard charge for cars will increase by 50 pence to £2.50, while two axle goods will increase to £3 and multi-axle goods will increase to £6.

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Heavy traffic shown on the M25 near the Dartford Crossing on Good Friday this year

The last toll-booth payment will be taken at 10pm on 29 November, with the new system coming into effect at 6am the next day, in which drivers’ number plates will be scanned by ANPR cameras  

The fines for failing to pay for the toll crossing however, which people will only be able to do either online or over the phone, will be as high as £105.

 Failure to pay the charge for crossing the bridge ahead of the journey or by midnight the following day will result in a £35 instant charge if paid within 14 days. Motorists who do not pay this fine will see it increased to £70 thereafter for up to 28 days, and finally £105 any time after.

Around 50 million journeys are made over the bridge each year, with between 130,000 and 170,000 vehicles crossing a day.

The Highways Agency said it is hoping for full compliance with the new charge system, but said it estimates around seven per cent of drivers will become fined overall, amounting to 3.5 million people.

A recent poll by the AA showed that 85 per cent of members were unaware they would have to pay by phone or online, the Daily Mail reported.

A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said it been running an activity since April to inform motorists of the changes, and had already had 50,000 people sign up to emails to stay informed about the crossing.

The Agency launched a million-pound advertising campaign on Thursday to publicise the new system, and setting up a pre-pay account for the Dart Charge will help drivers save up to a third on every crossing, the spokesperson added.

 

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