posted 2 years ago

Millions Will Be Caught Out At Dartford Crossing

Changes Could Mean Unexpected Fines For Motorists

The millions of motorists who use the busy Dartford crossing face a double whammy of bad news at the end of this month.

Not only is the toll price rising from £2 to £2.50, but from 30 November there will no longer be payment booths available – instead, drivers must pay online or over the phone. Those who don’t will face an automatic fine of up to £105.

The changes will affect the millions of motorists who use the busy crossing over the M25 each year – many of them families heading on holiday or to the continent.  

The AA warns that millions of drivers – especially occasional users of the crossing – risk being caught out by the new system.  A recent poll of its members showed that 85 per cent were not aware of the payment changes.

Move to ‘free flow’ system

From 30 November, the crossing will move to a new ‘free flow’ system without booths or barriers. This is intended to reduce congestion on the busy crossing, which is used up to 50 million vehicles a year and carries up to 170,000 vehicles a day.

Under the new system – similar to that used for the London Congestion Charge – motorists must pre-pay to use the crossing.  Payment options include: online, over the phone, through nominated retail outlets or through a postal pre-pay account.

The system will be policed by up to 18 ANPR cameras that will film vehicles passing north through the two tolled tunnels or south across the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Failure to pay the new £2.50 toll in advance or by midnight of the following day will result in a penalty charge of £35 if paid within 14 days, £70 up to 28 days and £105 thereafter.

As well as motorists being caught out because they are unaware of the changes, the AA warns that mistakes on the ANPR number plate recognition system could mean many are unfairly penalised.

In an impact assessment carried out last year, it was estimated that one in 14 vehicles would not pay to use the crossing under the new system.

For more information about the changes, click here.

A Highways Agency spokesman said the main reason for the introduction of the Dart Charge system is "to benefit drivers by speeding up journeys and reducing congestion".

He added that "drivers can save up to a third by signing up for a prepay account", meaning that they will pay less than they do now.

Highways Agency Project Manager, Nigel Gray added: "We know we have got to do everything possible to ensure that everyone that uses the Crossing is aware of the changes coming in on Sunday 30 November. We are investing in a campaign to encourage drivers to be prepared for the changes and I would advise anyone who uses the Crossing, whether regularly or not, to make sure they are ready. Dart Charge will help speed up journeys so it’s great news for the tens of thousands of drivers who use the Crossing every day and for the economy.”

Will you be affected by the changes? Let us know what you think.