Whereas an impact assessment of the new scheme had predicted a 7% failure-to-pay rate, non payment has run at 15% so far. That works out at 13,500 of the 90,000 users who use the crossing daily during the charging period (6am to 10pm).
Non-payment of new Dart Charge is twice expected level  In response, the AA has demanded that the Highways Agency adopt a lenient approach to non-payers as many drivers will not do this deliberately. The organisaton added that it welcomed the fact that during the first few weeks of operation the first penalty charge notice issued for each vehicle will include a warning letter giving the driver an extra 14 days in which to pay their original crossing charge without a penalty and with further crossings made in that vehicle also payable at the standard rate as long as payment is received within the same 14 day period.
‘The AA welcomes the improved traffic flow and a more sensitive approach to chasing up non-payment of the charge. However, we received complaints from drivers caught up in traffic jams at roadworks during the festive period,’ said Paul Watters, the AA’s head of roads policy.
‘Although a higher level of non-payment may have been expected at the outset of the scheme, some of the underlining failures of the payment system remain and will have contributed to the 13,500 a day who don’t pay.
‘In particular, a lack of Payzone facilities at relevant motorway service areas (Clacket Lane, Medway, Maidstone), Eurotunnel and Dover port is disappointing for outbound cross-channel drivers.’

Credit: FleetWorld