Large numbers of drivers are being fined £70 for not paying the new “free-flow” fee on the Dartford Crossing now that the toll barriers have been removed. Plus they have to pay the £2.50 fee on top. The Highways Agency have revealed that more than 4,000 drivers per day are failing to pay the charge via the means provided. That’s about 10% of drivers using the crossing apparently.
That does not just include foreign drivers who may think they can escape payment although the Highways Agency is pursuing 18,000 of those.
Comment: the outcome is much as we forecast with large numbers of people failing to pay simply because they are not aware they need to or have forgotten to do so. It is surely wrong to introduce a system where it is known that a lot of people will default. This was anticipated because it is known that other similar systems in other countries have the same problem.
The toll should have been removed as was previously promised. The Free-Flow payment system may have improved traffic flows, but it is unfair and unreasonable. One particular problem is that the signs near the crossing on the M25 that should warn people to pay are very unclear and are easy to miss. Perhaps the operators have no interest in ensuring people pay in advance or soon after?