Going Underground Tunnelling into Uncontrollable Debt

We all know someone who has fallen foul of road tolls in the past...

Either through laziness or ignorance, it can be pretty easy to miss the signs and neglect to make the payments for certain motorways, bridges or tunnels.

Unfortunately for road users, the camera very rarely lies, and it’s only ever a matter of time before fines start to drop through the letterbox.

With a little bit of misfortune and a sprinkling of forgetfulness, you could easily find yourself collecting fines for the port approach road in Dublin, the congestion charge areas in London, or even the Dartford Tunnel.

The Dartford Tunnel is under the Dart Charge system, which operates between 6am and 10pm, and costs £2.50 each way.

One unsuspecting commuter racked up a staggering £167.50 in unpaid crossings, but there were some extenuating circumstances.

Previously making the trip in a company car, the man concerned had become used to his vehicle being automatically paid for. Upon switching to his own car, he claimed that he had simply forgotten to make the payments in advance or after the trips.

An expensive mistake.

At its highest, the combined penalty charges amounted to £12,000.

This beggars belief, but it is a prime example of just how costly ignoring or missing road charges can prove.

The man initially tried to make an arrangement for payment, by contacting Highways for England, but claimed that they told him to simply speak to the Enforcement Agent.

This Is Money became involved and managed to bring the debt down for the man, but he still ended up owing more than half of the £12,000, with Highways England knocking off around £5000 in additional enforcement costs.

Despite the obvious ‘wow’ factor in the escalation of the charges, a statement from Highways England said...

“We work hard to strike the right balance between being absolutely clear that drivers using the Dartford Crossing need to pay their Dart Charge, while giving people maximum opportunity to avoid a penalty. We give clear and straightforward advice on how to pay or challenge a penalty at every stage of the process. Ignoring a penalty charge will not make it go away.'

The individual stated that they had fallen into arrears with their council tax and mortgage whilst trying to settle this debt, but did they make a rod for their own back?

What are your thoughts on cases like this?

Are the charges too excessive, or should road users take more responsibility?


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