Over 90 per cent of chargeable Dartford Crossing journeys made in December have been paid for, with 56,000 people still slipping through the net.

Roughly 1,820 people a day did not pay to cross, even after they received a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

The PCN gives drivers an extra 14 days to pay without a penalty charge, but 40 per cent of the 130,306 people sent letters did not act upon them.

By the end of December, only 85 per cent of people had paid for their crossings - that figure has now increased by five per cent.

An additional 18,716 cases were passed on to the European debt recovery agency for issues with overseas drivers who had not paid.

The Crossing figures were released by the Highways Agency today (February 26).

They also revealed that more than 570,000 Dart Charge accounts have been set up since November 30 last year, meaning 1.5 million vehicles are now eligible for discount crossings.

TODAY'S TOP STORIES

Highways Agency project director Nigel Gray said: “These figures show drivers are getting to know and understand Dart Charge, and that our approach of offering drivers an extended period to pay any vehicle’s first crossing charge is getting the right results.

“The vast majority of drivers are paying Dart Charge and each day this continues to rise.

“This means that in many cases drivers are paying less to use the Crossing now than before Dart Charge was introduced.

“I urge anyone who uses the Crossing more than a couple of times a year to sign up for an account and benefit from savings.”

Dart Charge was introduced on November 30 last year, in a bid to speed up crossings by removing the barriers.

The old system of paying at the barriers

Drivers without a pre-pay account must pay for their crossing by midnight the day after they travel, to avoid receiving a PCN.

A single journey made between 6am-10pm costs £2.50 per car or £1.67 with a dart charge account. Lorry drivers pay £3.