'Pay as you drive' could add to car insurance pain

19 August 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
In addition to a six per cent rise in the average car insurance premium, Britain's drivers might soon have to endure further expense if Government proposals for a 'pay as you drive' scheme come into being.

A national road-pricing scheme is currently under review which could eventually see the introduction of tolls on motorways and a charge of £1.30 a mile on the busiest roads during peak time periods.

The Telegraph has learnt that there will be eight areas used as trials for the system, which was the brain child of Tony Blair's administration and previously thought not to have been carried on by his successor.

But Gordon Brown has reopened plans for the controversial scheme, which is expected to feature heavily in the next general election, coinciding with the beginning of trials, which, according to the Telegraph, will be held in Leeds, North Yorkshire, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, south west London, Suffolk and Essex.

Transport Minister Ruth Kelly will vulnerable in her constituency of Bolton West where her hold on the position in already marginal at best.

The trials, due to start in 2010, will involve 'spy in the sky' technology, using satellites to track a vehicle's movements; a weekly bill will then be sent out to those motorists who drive on the UK's busiest roads during rush hour. If the trials prove a success, then black boxes will be installed on Britain's roadsides to take the place of satellites.

Theresa Villiers, the shadow secretary for Ruth Kelly, said that the Transport Minister should "start listening to drivers and scrap these pilots for a scheme that is unnecessary and unwanted." the Telegraph reported.

British motorists already have to pay some of the highest road taxes in the world, but it is not yet known whether the new scheme would replace the existing road tax system, and ministers have pledged to reduce other duties if the scheme comes successfully through the trials.

When the Blair government initially proposed the scheme, 1.8 million Brits voiced their objection by signing a petition and calling on Downing Street to scrap the plans. British drivers have already had to find the cash for car insurance prices hikes and many don't see why they should be hit with further costs.

Environmentalists have supported the scheme, which is hoped to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads, especially at peak times, which could hold potential eco-friendly benefits.

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