Wednesday 1 October 2008

Uninsured drivers to get their cars crushed (UK)

The government is set to launch a crackdown on uninsured drivers this autumn that it hopes will help cut premiums for other motorists. Uninsured drivers are said to be involved in more than 23,000 deaths and injuries on the roads every year, adding £30 to the average insurance premium for other road users. However, as the law currently stands, prosecutions can only take place if the police actually catch drivers on the road.

The government is set to rectify this situation with a new offence of keeping a car uninsured, which will allow police to match insurance industry databases against DVLA records and identify cars that aren't covered. Owners will receive warning letters, backed up by fines of £100 and the ultimate sanction of vehicles being seized and crushed, even if they have never left the garage.

However, critics have pointed out that the fine proposed under the new system is less than drivers could face if caught on the road and that cross-checking databases will not catch all offenders because its searches uncover whether specific vehicles are insured: they may not be insured for the driver at the wheel. The Department for Transport thinks that if the number of uninsured drivers was cut by a third it would save insurers £764m over five years, which could then be used to keep premiums down.

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said: 'A small hard core of drivers who refuse to insure their cars push up premiums for responsible motorists and kill or injure thousands of people each year.

We're determined to get these antisocial drivers off our roads. These tough new powers will leave uninsured drivers with nowhere to hide.' Around 1.4 million cars, or about 6% of those on the road, are uninsured. Research studies have suggested that these drivers are involved in other forms of on-road illegality, being 10 times more likely than ordinary motorists to be convicted of drink driving, six times more likely to drive a car that is unsafe and four times more likely to be convicted of driving without due care and attention.

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