Published: 15:00, 12 January 2018
| Updated: 15:24, 12 January 2018
Motorists who failed to pay the toll for the Dartford Crossing were visited by bailiffs more than 200,000 times last year.
Highways England figures revealed that 200,610 drivers who did not pay the Dart Charge were visited by debt collectors.
The fee currently stands at £2.50 for cars and £3 or £6 for buses, vans and lorries, payable via phone, app, online, postal or Payzone services.
If no payment is made within a day a fine of £70 is imposed, which is halved if paid within 14 days or increased to £108 if not paid within 28 days.
It comes as the department’s accounts revealed that in the 18-month period since removing barriers in November 2014, more than £53 million had been made in fines.
The introduction of a system using automated number plate recognition cameras and requiring motorists to either pay within 24 hours or have an online account was aimed at easing congestion on what is one of the country’s busiest routes.
Last year – the first year Highways England’s contract with debt recovery companies was fully active – there were 99 million crossings made.
A spokesman for Highways England said the money collected from charging schemes at the Crossing is spent on transport.
He added: “Dart Charge has removed a significant source of congestion at the Dartford Crossing, and the vast majority of drivers are paying their Dart Charge on time.
“We have to be clear that people using the Dartford Crossing need to pay their Dart Charge. But we work hard to help people avoid a penalty wherever possible.
"Court-appointed enforcement agents are only ever used as a last resort to chase up non-payment, and only when each case has been authorised by the courts.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.