Foreign lorry drivers dodge £1MILLION in fees to use the Dartford Crossing as one in five fails to pay the toll on Britain’s busiest motorway
- 154,502 foreign-registered trucks failed to pay the £6 crossing charge in 2018
- Total figure of £927,012 has left crossing users and local councillors furious
- A driver joked he should buy car with foreign numberplates to get away with it
Foreign lorry drivers have failed to pay almost £1million in charges to cross the Dartford Crossing in the past year.
Some 154,502 foreign-registered trucks failed to pay the £6 charge in 2018, giving a total figure of £927,012, according to a Freedom of Information request.
The figures left crosing users and local councillors furious – with one motorist joking that he should just buy a car with foreign numberplates to get away with not paying.
Traffic passes through the tolls at the Dartford Crossing on the Kent side (file picture)
Ian Chittenden, a Liberal Democrat councillor at Kent County Council, said: ‘The continued failure to collect tolls from foreign registered vehicles is getting ridiculous. A new system should be introduced as quickly as possible.’
A ‘free flow’ system was put in place at the crossing – with tunnels under the River Thames to go north and a bridge to go south – in November 2014.
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The crossing handles around 130,000 motorists every day as drivers go across the river, which links Essex and Kent.
Rather than paying cash at toll booths, the free-flow system used automatic number plate recognition – with users able to pay the so-called ‘Dart Charge’ in advance or by midnight on the day of crossing.
Local Colin Grant, 38, of Bromley, South East London, said he uses the crossing daily and it was a ‘disgrace’ so many foreign drivers were getting away with not paying.
Some 154,502 foreign-registered trucks failed to pay the £6 charge in 2018, it has emerged
He said: ‘I have to use the crossing every day to get to work, and if I don’t pay I’m chased for payment and fined if I don’t pay up.
‘Me and thousands of other people who have no choice but to use the crossing are picking up the bill for these people who don’t bother paying.
‘Maybe I should just buy a car with foreign plates and then I’ll be able to whizz over whenever I like for free.’
Bosses at Highways England said 80 per cent of foreign truckers paid the charge, compared to 95 per cent of UK-based lorries.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said that the charge at the Dartford Crossing was not in line to be scrapped, like the Severn Bridge charges.
Highways England bosses said 80 per cent of foreign truckers paid the charge for the crossing
He said: ‘Abolishing tolls on the Severn Bridge was a manifesto commitment of the Government which is being implemented. It will make a huge difference to motorists and drive new job and business opportunities in Wales and the South West.
‘The charge at Dartford is fundamentally different in nature and is crucial for managing traffic and journey times for road users across South East England.’
Bosses at the Highways Agency chase foreign non-payers using a European debt collection agency – with non-payers faced with stumping up a fine of £70.
From 2014 to 2017, around 1.2million foreign drivers – including truckers, who pay £6, and regular motorists, who pay £2.50 – failed to pay the Dartford Crossing charge.
Estimates suggest that the fares dodged amounted to in excess of £4million over the three-year period.
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