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Quarter of UK drivers would welcome new motorway tolls

One in four (26%) drivers would be willing to pay new motorway tolls if they brought higher standards and less congestion.

Dartford Crossing

Tolls at the M25 Dartford River Crossing are credited by many with improving congestion

The research, commissioned by Select Car Leasing and published as prices on the M6 toll rise, also found that more than a third (36%) of the 1,200 respondents were undecided on whether they would support tolls; this compares to the 38% who would “somewhat disagree” with any such proposal.

The findings appear to contradict popular wisdom that the widespread use of motorway levies would be poorly received by drivers across the board.

However, according to the AA, motorway tolls would not work on British roads.

“There’s tremendous suspicion about the way politicians would attempt to implement this,” said spokesman Luke Bosdet.

“There’s a feeling among many drivers that they already pay enough – fuel duty raises £27bn of tax – and that, once the genie was out of the bottle on road tolls, the Government would keep incrementally increasing charges.”

There are now around 20 toll roads in the UK, most of which are river crossings, and the majority of fees go towards maintenance, improvement and construction costs. However, last year, tolls to cross the Severn bridges into Wales — the M4 and M48 — were officially scrapped after 52 years. The Welsh Government predicted the move would increase traffic on the M4 bridge by 20%.

Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing said: “British roads are getting busier and perhaps imaginative thinking is needed to keep us moving.

“Although not suitable for all roads, in the right places [tolls] do work, like on the M6 or the M25.

“In the interest of balance, our findings show it may be advantageous to look at how the introduction of a wider range of road tolls could improve the driving experience of millions.

“What our research shows is that, under the right circumstances, at least some British drivers would be willing to consider changes to some stretches of motorways.

“Of course the key to making this work would be to ensure any money levied would be limited, affordable and spent efficiently and transparently on improving roads – specifically on measures to reduce congestion and improve journey times.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.