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ACFO: telematics will lead to road charging

Date: 12 August 2015   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

ACFO has warned that the increasing prevalence of telematics will pave the way for national road charging. Speaking to BusinessCar, the organisation's chairman, John Pryor, predicted standard fit systems in new vehicles would allow easy facilitation of an accurate, usage-based taxation or charging system across the nation.

"As more technology like this is built into cars, it does make road pricing easier - that's the hidden one at the end of the line.

"Look at the furore with the Congestion Charge and the Dartford Crossing. Once you can centralise that - work out who's doing what, on what road and when - you then get the big data side of things coming into it, which gives you the ability to track and pinpoint a car wherever it is.

That way, you don't have the situation where someone doing huge mileage every year is paying the same rate as someone else who drives to the shops twice a week."

He added there would likely be a backlash to such measures, with surreptitious technology developed to counteract the application of road pricing. "You'll get people who can get you out of it, who'll say 'buy this piece of kit and you'll dodge the costs,' so you'll end up with people ducking under the radar. It does open up all sorts of issues of what will happen."

Pryor claimed the adoption of factory-fit telematics systems in place of aftermarket set-ups would cement the technology: "We see [the cost of aftermarket systems] coming down all the time but when it becomes adopted and becomes built into cars, that's when it'll take off.

"For example, five years ago you didn't have Bluetooth built into cars - people used to drill holes for phone holders and you were paying £1000 for Bluetooth to be fitted to vehicles. Now it's standard."

He praised the choice of current aftermarket systems but said the quality varied dramatically and fleets should have a clear idea of their objectives before committing to a package.

"Fleets will adopt where they feel there's a benefit and the beauty is they've got such a wide choice that there's something for everybody."How good they are is another moot point. It's not like you see on films where you've got instant communications and you can pinpoint things to the nth degree - life doesn't happen like that. Half the things aren't working or they're wrong, so again there's not an easy answer or right answer [as to whether to invest in telematics]. Every fleet needs to look at what they want to get out of it.