There are calls for the north-east of England to be a frontrunner in charging motorists for using roads before the scheme is rolled out nationally.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says it would ease congestion hot spots and help provide money to improve public transport.
Earlier this month, the government said £2.5bn would be available by 2014-15 to back road pricing schemes.
A £2 charge was introduced in Durham City in October 2002 on Saddler Street.
The IPPR report believes that transport is key to tackling social exclusion and the region needs to focus more on developing a transport policy to tackle poverty and deprivation instead of giving priority to major road and rail schemes.
John Adams, director of research at IPPR North, said: "If the region goes for it first we will have the benefit of improving our public transport before the road user pricing scheme is introduced.
"And despite the fact that we don't have much congestion, we do have some pinch points in the system.
"And the introduction of a road user pricing scheme would be able to free up those pinch points and tackle our congestion problems, such as they are, without the need for really expensive road building."
He said public transport would need to be improved before any such scheme was introduced.
He said any charging scheme would be instead of vehicle excise duty and petrol tax.
Satellite technology would track where cars go and there would be regionally-fixed charges for particular roads and times.
In the past, motoring groups said they wanted any cash raised from future road pricing to be given back to drivers through tax cuts.