Kent

Nearly 3.5m Dartford Crossing fines since toll booths removed

Crossing the Thames from Kent to Essex via the Dartford tunnel Image copyright Simon Leatherdale / Geograph
Image caption A new cashless payment system was introduced nearly two years ago

Nearly 3.5m fines have been issued to drivers for not paying the Dartford Crossing charge since toll booths were removed, the BBC has found.

The "Dart Charge" system was introduced on the bridge and tunnel crossing nearly two years ago.

Over that time, fines unpaid by UK-based drivers have topped half a million, a Freedom of Information request to Highways England showed.

This year alone, 250,752 fines to UK drivers have gone unpaid.

Highways England said enforcement action was continuing on the vast majority of cases, but BBC South East found examples where it had not enforced the fine for the first offence.

'Wrong message'

Edmund King, president of the AA called for clearer signage and more pay-zones along with "more targeted enforcement for drivers who regularly don't pay".

Natalie Chapman, from the Freight Transport Association, said non-payers should be chased up whether in the UK or overseas.

She said: "If we don't do that then we're sending the wrong message."

A Highways England spokesman said: "The vast majority of drivers are paying their Dart Charge correctly - more than 93% overall.

"Since it was introduced more than £150m has been collected from Dart Charge, money that is being ploughed back into UK transport.

"We enforce payment of Dart Charge here and abroad and are recovering those charges every day."

It said the Dart Charge had cut northbound crossings by six minutes and southbound crossings by more than seven minutes.

Image copyright Adrian Cable / Geograph
Image caption A toll at the Dartford Crossing is payable between 06:00 and 22:00 daily

The figures showed more than 745,000 fines for foreign vehicles were referred to a European debt recovery agency since the payment system changed.

After seeking advice from transport minister John Hayes, Highways England refused to reveal how much money foreign-registered drivers still owed.

It claimed releasing the information could "encourage non-payment".

There have been 78m chargeable journeys on the crossing, which spans the Thames to the east of London, since the Dart Charge was introduced.

The £70 fine for non-payment is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days, but increased to £105 if a driver does not pay.


Image caption Highways England said most drivers paid the charge correctly

Dartford Crossing charges

Drivers setting up an account can benefit from a reduction - payments can be made online, by phone, or by cash at a payzone outlet

  • Cars (including trailers), motor-homes, passenger vans and buses with less than 9 seats

£2.50 for a single journey; £1.67 with a standard or commercial account; £10 a year for 50 crossings and 20p per extra crossing, or £20 a year for unlimited crossings with a local resident discount

  • 2 axle goods vehicles (including vans)

£3.00 for a single journey; £2.63 with a standard or commercial account; £10 a year for 50 crossings and 20p per extra crossing, or £20 a year for unlimited crossings with a local resident discount

  • Multi-axle goods vehicles

£6.00 for a single journey; £5.19 with a standard or commercial account

  • No charge for a moped, motorcycle, motor tricycle or quad bike

Charges apply between 6am and 10pm every day, including Christmas and other bank holidays. Payments must be made by midnight the day after the crossing.


More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites