Absolute clarity in the purpose of road pricing is needed right from the outset, according to The Royal Academy of Engineering.

In principle, road pricing should aim to cut congestion, encouraging drivers to make their journeys at less busy times. Then they could travel faster and more efficiently. There is currently chronic congestion on our road systems, which manifests itself in lengthening journey times and congestion and delays on our roads at certain times.

Road pricing will not necessarily reduce emissions. The best way to do this is by a direct charge on the amount of fossil fuel used.

A number of local pilots are being suggested. It is essential that they all use the same protocols for charging and enforcement; but people must have a choice of ways to pay.

People are more likely to accept direct charges more readily if they can see that the money is being used to improve the transport system.

The overarching IT system must allow for the individual pilots possibly to be integrated at some time in the future.

Individual privacy can be protected in a system of road pricing. It should not be necessary to collect details of every journey and store them long-term. Data must be ‘electronically shredded’ as soon as the system no longer needs it, within the guidelines of the Office of the Data Commissioner.

The system operator of the road pricing system only needs to ensure revenue is collected. It should be possible to design a system that logs only vehicles that appear to be evading payment.

Notes for editors

  1. Road User Charging – a statement by the Academy in August 2006 is available online:
    Road User Charging report (58.63 KB)
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Richard Wilson at The Royal Academy of Engineering