Wednesday 12th June 2019
Number of uninsured drivers caught on UK roads fell by a third in 2018

There has been a 33% decline in the number of drivers who have been stopped without insurance in 2018, compared to the year before.

Rob Hull, This Is Money, reports:

The number of people caught driving without motor insurance fell by a third last year, new figures show.

Data seen by RAC Insurance shows 79,713 uninsured drivers were caught in 2018, compared with 118,698 the year previous - a decline of 33 per cent.

Shockingly, 872 of the individuals apprehended by police were aged under 17 - below the minimum age to have driving lessons on public roads - and the youngest offenders were both just 11 years old.

The figures were obtained by the insurer in a Freedom of Information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

Anyone caught driving without insurance can be given a fixed penalty of £600 and between six and eight penalty points.

However, if a case goes to court, offenders face an unlimited fine and disqualification from driving.

Around one per cent of people apprehended for having no insurance were under the legal age to drive, - though this was far less than the number of under 17s caught in 2017 (1,644).

And while the youngest joyriders of 2018 were both aged 11, the most infant of all to be reprimanded behind the wheel of a motor vehicle was a 10-year-old in 2016.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the oldest uninsured motorist recorded last year was a 96-year-old.

The most common age for an uninsured driver in 2018 was 24 with 3,309 individual cases, according to the data given to the RAC.

In 2011 the Department for Transport – along with the DVLA and the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) – introduced Continuous Insurance Enforcement in a bid to tackle the number of drivers without cover.

The shared database allowed them to identify motorists without cover and warning letters, followed by Fixed Penalty Notices, were sent to those with no insurance.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey believes the policy has helped to curb the number uninsured drivers on UK roads over the last six years.

That's despite increases in the people caught driving without insurance in 2016 and 2017, which he attributed to the rising cost of insurance premiums.

'In November 2015 the Government raised Insurance Premium Tax from 6 per cent to 9.5 per cent and followed this with two more increases, taking it to 12 per cent.

'This, along with other factors, added £100 to the average cost of insurance by the end of 2017 which unfortunately could explain why more people drove uninsured.

'This is further borne out by the higher number of fixed penalty notices issued by the DVLA through the Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme over the same period,' he explained. 

Neil Drane, head of enforcement services at MIB, added: 'Through the introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement and ongoing police efforts to seize uninsured vehicles and to encourage motorists to insure their vehicles the number of uninsured drivers has halved over the past 10 years to around one million.

'Uninsured drivers pose a serious danger and significantly impact the lives of thousands of victims each year. The message is simple: one uninsured driver is one too many and if you drive without insurance you will be caught.'

Today's confirmation of a significant decline in the number of uninsured motorists 'can only be good news' and 'should help to keep premiums down for every driver' in the future, Godfrey said.

However, he added that it was difficult to credit what had caused such a substantial decline.

'The sharp drop in driving without insurance offences seen in 2018 is harder to explain as while the average insurance premiums began to fall the reduction in price does not seem great enough to cause such a significant change in behaviour,' he said.

It could be argued that fewer uninsured drivers are being caught due to the reduction in officer numbers as a result of police budget cuts over recent years.

Between September 2010 and September 2016, police numbers in England and Wales fell by 18,991, or 13 per cent, according to the Home Office.

However, it is difficult to proportion the impact of this on the falling number of drivers caught on the road without insurance.

The overall decline offers a positive outlook for the safety of our roads, with a greater proportion of motorists having the required insurance to drive their vehicle.

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