With average daily traffic levels now surpassing 136,000, the Dartford Crossing is under a lot of pressure. Authorities have had to take steps to reduce congestion on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge element of the crossing, which carries southbound traffic.
A new “free-flow” number plate recognition system has replaced the old toll booths, having taken effect on Sunday, November 30. Special cameras record each car's registration as it passes, creating a bill that must be paid online, by text message or by phone – before midnight after the crossing.
Drivers can also pay in shops, set up a prepaid account, or pay in advance by post.
Pre-paid account holders will get one-third discount, while those living nearby can apply for a local residence discount online.
A penalty for late payment will be levied.
The cost of the new system is in part being met by the crossing charge, which has increased to £2.50 for a standard car. This follows a rise in 2012 from £1.50 to £2.00.
The fee for a two-axle heavy goods vehicle has risen by 50p to £3, while the fee for multi-axle goods vehicles has risen by £1 to £6.
There is still no fee for motorcycles.
Motorists are being warned not to slow down at toll booths, as they are no longer in operation and are unmanned. Congestion on the bridge can arise very quickly if a car breaks down or if traffic crosses too slowly.
The booths are set to be demolished.
Are you one of our breakdown insurance customers who uses the Dartford Crossing regularly? Do you believe the new system will sufficiently ease congestion? Please leave your thoughts below.