Drivers slapped with harsh charges and fines from M25 Dartford Crossing as IT issues cause havoc

Drivers slapped with harsh charges and fines from M25 Dartford Crossing as IT issues cause havoc

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Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 23/05/2024

- 14:26

Drivers were issued nearly 200,000 fines across just three months last year

The number of drivers being charged incorrectly for using the Dartford Crossing has increased by more than half as more motorists are forced to pay fines.

Payment-related problems for the “Dart Charge” have meant that even though drivers have paid the fare, the system fails to register and subsequently fines users in some instances.

The technological issues were first raised last year when National Highways switched providers to deal with vehicle identification.

In the three months prior to the new operator taking over the system in July 2023, 190,000 fines were issued to drivers.

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Dartford Crossing toll road

The Dartford Crossing toll charges £2.50 for a single journey


Drivers can be fined £70 if they fail to pay the Dart Charge, reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days, but sharply increases to £105 if drivers fail to pay altogether.

The problems with the payments have meant that thousands of drivers have unnecessarily been fined, Fleet News reported.

According to National Highways, more than one million drivers have been at risk of receiving fines for using the Dartford Crossing after an IT issue invalidated card payments.

Other IT issues also include accounts being suspended, number plates not being recognised and crossing charges not being automatically paid, despite funds being available.

The Dartford Crossing charges drivers £2.50 for a single journey, with the road being a popular option for drivers needing to drive between Kent and Essex.

But as more drivers are using the toll route, the IT issues have left many with unnecessary fines, with some as much as nearly £200.

Drivers need to pay the charge if they use the crossing between 6am and 10pm every day, including at weekends and on bank holidays.

The only exception is for motorbikes, mopeds or quad bikes which can cross without paying and those who get free UK vehicle tax because of a disability.

The crossing carries around 50 million vehicles a year, with roughly 135,000 vehicles going through it every day.

A National Highways spokesperson explained that when the agency changed providers for the Dart Charge Service at the end of July 2023, all of its 1.7 million account holders had to re-validate their card details due to banking regulations.

The spokesperson added: “A number of things can cause a Dart Charge account to close, including inactivity or invalid payment details.

“In these instances, several notifications are sent to advise the customer of the account status and detail actions needed.”


Dartford Crossing traffic

The Dartford Crossing carries around 50 million vehicles a year


However, the spokesperson added that it would encourage all account holders, particularly infrequent users, to ensure their account details are “up to date” and there is a valid payment method on their account.

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