Around 200,000 cases have now ended up with enforcement agencies
According to figures released by Highways England, over 2 million fines were handed out last year to motorists who used the Dartford Crossing but failed to pay the charge.
Up until 2014, the tunnel and bridge system used booths to collect payment from motorists as they arrived at either the tunnel or bridge end. Drivers now only have one payment option which is to pay online.
The Dartford Crossing connects Essex and Kent both under and over the River Thames. The decision to change the way motorists pay for the crossing was made to free up the flow of traffic which before the new system was introduced was a real problem at either end of the crossing.
One female driver from Essex, who used the crossing last November, was one of those handed a fine for not paying, despite the fact she had signed up for ‘autopay’ via her mobile phone and assumed the payment would be taken from her account.
Eight months on, she now has a bill for £190.50 which is made up of a £115.50 fine, plus £75 has been added as a ‘compliance stage fee’.
The cost to motorists for using the Dartford Crossing is £2.50 and for those who open an account it’s just £1.67.
According to Highways England, the non-payment fine is £70 and needs to be paid within 28 days but if it’s paid within 14 days, the fine is halved to £35. If however you don’t pay, the fine increases to £108 and then handed over to one of three enforcement agencies to try and retrieve.
On the Dartford Crossing website it does explain that when selecting auto-pay: ‘Dart Charge accounts cannot be used to pay for crossings you have already made.’
So despite the female driver trying to set up ‘autopay’ in advance, there was a crossover – the payment couldn’t be taken as she had already crossed the Dartford, that’s why on her return journey four days later, the payment was successful.
Initially, the Dartford Crossing was expected to be free for motorists, however the Government changed it from a toll crossing to a charge in 2003 and now provides them with a pretty good revenue stream.
Recently released figures showed the total income made from the Dartford Crossing between 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 was £161.6million – an increase of £61.8million compared to the year before.
Around one third of the total income was raised via enforcement action, which Highways England believe is responsible for the increase in revenue.
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