Drivers all over the UK have been suffering high insurance costs and record fuel prices for at least the past two years. Something the country has had to deal with for decades, however, is congestion on the roads. “Motorway” and especially “M25”, among others, are words that easily spring to mind, yet the future may hold a motoring experience that is very different to that which drivers have today.

In March of this year the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, “We need to look at innovative approaches to the funding of our national roads – to increase investment and to reduce congestion.” A novel idea, as the PM suggests, would be to privatise some or all of Britain’s roads in order to keep them in good condition – the public will not have to pay through taxes, and to make sure that congestion is a thing of the past by developing existing highway infrastructure.

Currently there is only one major toll road in Britain – a stretch that makes up part of the M6, but it seems that many drivers are averse to adopting what is thought of as a very European (excluding Britain, of course) extra expense. After all, shelling out for their daily commute to work may give drivers the impression that they are spending more money. The fact is that road quality, and in turn, overall driving experience would improve significantly if tolls were introduced. Existing highways would be given a make-over and, arguably, more roads would be constructed to better distribute Britain’s motor traffic. Moreover, the cost would be considerably reduced (in tax) for those who choose not to drive frequently or at all.

Cities such as Toronto, Stockholm and Dubai all operate pay-as-you-drive systems for many of their roads. Here in the UK we have pay-as-you-go mobile tariffs that suit users who wish to regulate their spending, the rail network is completely privatised and London uses its “Oyster” system to speed up Underground traffic and even to offer discounts on ticket prices. It cannot be completely implausible, therefore, to introduce a similar system to control Britain’s road network.

The Land Transport Authority has reported that since London’s congestion charge zones have been put in place, road traffic has decreased by nearly 13 per cent during peak hours. This is mainly due to car-sharing and a general drop in drivers choosing to use the roads during peak hours. However, an idea that many have found themselves repeatedly turning to is that of establishing an effective but affordable public transport network. A better public transport system would potentially reduce traffic in and around towns and cities whilst also helping to reduce pollution.

Constructing toll roads is not the only aspect of the government’s proposed plans to improve the country’s road network but the conclusion is thus; by privatising the major roads, that is, handing over the construction and maintenance of motorways and A-roads to private companies, Britain could see an investment of up to £100 billion. Soon we might experience a future in which gridlock holds back the economy as little as it does drivers.