Time appears to be running out for the million or so uninsured drivers on UK roads today. Currently uninsured drivers can only be prosecuted if caught behind the wheel but under new legislation just owning an uninsured car could mean the car is impounded by police and it is hoped this deterrent will lead to lower car insurance premiums for the law abiding majority.
Of course in the past the wilfully uninsured probably found it quite easy to get away with. In the unlikely event they were stopped by the police they still had seven days to produce their documents at a police station. This is known as a HO/RT10 or vernacularly as a “producer” (UK rapper Smiley Culture even wrote a song about it!).
Recently everything has become easier for the police since the introduction of new laws back in 2005, meaning they can seize and impound vehicles being driven without insurance.
Police are now using modern Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software which is able to read the registration plates of passing vehicles and instantly links the information to the police national computer. If the data reveals a car has no insurance, the vehicle will be stopped, and if no insurance is provided or explanation given the car can be seized and impounded. The driver is then issued with the HO/RT10 and has seven days to prove they hold correct insurance, if not the police have the right to destroy the vehicle after 14 days have elapsed.
Under the latest legislation every vehicle in the country will be checked on a central database, with uninsured owners facing a fine and ultimately having their car seized and crushed.
Sadly the UK has the highest levels of uninsured driving in Western Europe, 1 in 20 according to the Department of Transport and according to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, every year 160 people are killed and 23,000 injured by uninsured drivers. The Government believes the clampdown will also help to cut the £30 a year added to premiums to cover the £500m-a-year costs of accidents involving uninsured drivers.
Under the new system the DVLA and the insurance industry will compare databases to identify the owners of cars without insurance. In the first instance they will be sent a letter warning them they could face a fine. If they fail to obtain insurance, they will be fined £100, and repeat offenders face having their vehicle seized and destroyed. Drivers will still be able to register their car as being off-road to qualify for an exemption from road tax.
The consequences for drivers taking to the road without insurance include vehicle seizure, a minimum of six licence penalty points, and a maximum fine of £5,000.
A driver without motor insurance is five times more likely to be involved in road collisions, to fail to comply with other road traffic requirements and to be engaged in other criminal activity.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau also revealed that Vauxhall Astra’s are the cars most often removed from the road, followed by BMW 3 Series, Vauxhall Vectra, VW Golf and Vauxhall Corsa. Also young people represent the highest proportion of uninsured drivers in the UK, with 20 per cent of drivers aged between 17 and 20 suspected of being uninsured due to the high premiums they face – £2,500 for a young man and up to £1,400 for a young woman.
Let’s hope the days of the uninsured motorist will soon be at an end.