A report for the Government, Feasibility study of road pricing in the UK, estimated that a national scheme could cut congestion by half and save Â£12bn a year. The study suggested charges from 2.4p to Â£1.34 a mile, depending on when and where the motorist was driving. At 3am on a minor country road, motorists would pay the lowest tariff – possibly nothing at all. At 9 am on a Monday on the M25, drivers would pay the highest levy. The report insisted that only around 0.5 per cent of traffic would pay the highest charges.
The technology behind the idea:
Automatic Number Plate Recognition uses high-definition cameras to record a vehicle’s registration number, logged by date and time, which is then relayed to a central computer. This can be cross-checked against a database of registered users for charging purposes, or, in some cases, the vehicle’s registered owner can be traced through DVLA data. The “Tag and Beacon” system uses microwave radio beacons which interrogate tags or smartcards carried in vehicles. Passive tags merely provide basic information on the vehicle type or registered user. The Global Positioning System is currently thought to be the ultimate technology, simply because it is usually highly accurate, and vehicle-specific details can easily be added to increasingly common SatNav devices. Experts at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport point out that the most essential feature is “inter-operability”. In other words, the same technology should work wherever you are.