Britain will be divided into a patchwork of road-pricing zones where drivers will be charged varying rates, under a government plan to make them pay by the mile without tracking them on every road.
Ministers believe that a zonal system would protect drivers’ privacy and deter them from rat-running in residential areas to avoid high charges on main roads. All roads in each zone would be charged at the same rate, regardless of how congested they were.
A driver using empty side streets to visit a shop or take a child to school would pay the same price per mile as those queueing on the high street. Stephen Ladyman, the Roads Minister, gave details of how the system would work in an attempt to address concerns raised by the 1.8 million drivers who signed a petition against road pricing.