A trial of road-user charging planned for 2009 aims to reassure drivers that such a scheme, if brought into place, would not need to be expensive or intrusive on their privacy according to the ETA (Environmental Transport Association).
The government announced this week that volunteers will have their cars fitted with satellite-tracking devices that have the ability to collect road charges automatically, at rates which will vary according to the level of congestion.
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It is though that the trial could result drivers being charged £1.30 a mile on the most congested roads, although only 0.5 per cent would be expected to pay this top rate.
Satellite-tracking devices will link up to on-board units that will automatically deduct money from a shadow account in the driver’s name.
Director at the ETA, Andrew Davis said: "National road user charging could reduce congestion and do away with the need for fuel duty and road tax, but the idea remains unpopular because the government is too scared to commit itself and explain the benefits clearly."
Under the new plans, drivers will have a choice whether their bills show the details of where they have travelled, but the ETA believes this alone is unlikely to reassure people concerned about invasion of privacy.
Andrew Davis said: "Anybody who currently owns a mobile phone or a SatNav need divulge no more information than they would through a road user charging scheme."
Transport Minister Paul Clark said: “Nobody will thank us if, as a Government, we do not look at every option. Any form of road pricing must address people’s concerns around fairness and privacy. If we sit back and do nothing you can be sure that economic growth will lead to gridlock."
The ETA is a not-for-profit, ethical breakdown organisation, providing carbon-neutral breakdown cover and insurance products.