Police across the country are this week cracking down on uninsured motorists as it is revealed that it costs law-abiding citizens up to £100 million a year in premiums. From Monday 12th November, police across the country will be using ANPR cameras and the Motor Insurance Database to try and catch those who do not drive with insurance.

Why now?

This isn’t the first year that ‘Operation Drive Insured’ has run, with tremendous success last autumn, leading to rollouts with Police Scotland further and now repeated annually.

Last month the Motor Insurance Board (MIB) confirmed that it had written to its five millionth uninsured car owner since 2011, an impressive number in eight years, around 625,000 a year or 1712 a day. They also revealed that at certain points in the year, they could write letters to as many as three thousand people a day, thanks to an automated system that is run with help from the DVLA, and set up seven years ago.

The introduction of the Continuous Enforcement Legislation has meant that both the DVLA and MIB can identify and prosecute the cars (and their owners) that appear to be off the road or driven without insurance but not declared with a Statutory Off the Road Notice (SORN.)

In 2017, the MIB received 11,000 complaints from people who had been involved in a road traffic collision with an uninsured party, costing those that do drive with insurance over £100 million a year from their insurance premiums. This is due to the MIB being a last resort for failed claims, meaning that the premiums of law-abiding citizens are used to make up for those who choose not to insure their cars.

Plans for this week

This week, officers from 35 forces across the UK will use ANPR cameras placed in strategic locations to identify cars without insurance.

They’ll then have a direct line to the Motor Insurance Database, provided by MIB, and will be able to quickly liaise the insurers to determine if there is valid insurance on the car. If there is none, they will be able to seize the car, and the driver could get up to six points on their licence and face court prosecution. At the same time that the vehicle is seized, police will be carrying out a series of additional checks for other road traffic offences.

Other offences being checked include ones for drink or drug driving, as statistics show that those who are uninsured are more likely to be committing another road traffic offence at the same time. Technological developments mean that these roadside tests can be conducted easily and quickly before more in-depth tests are conducted back at the police station.

Simon Hills, the inspector for roads policing operations at Thames Valley Police, said: “In my experience, drivers who willingly use vehicles without insurance are often committing secondary offences.

These range in seriousness from minor road traffic offences, to driving whilst disqualified and other crimes such as drug dealing and burglary.

The effective enforcement of uninsured vehicles allows us to deny criminals the use of the road and prevent further offending. Operation Drive Insured is a perfect opportunity for us to target our resources.”

Hotspots for uninsured drivers

Data from MIB, published back in 2015, shows that the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands all have the highest number of uninsured drivers, with the number one top spot in the postal area of B9, under West Midlands police. An estimated 117,000 vehicles in the West Midlands area were uninsured in 2015, a shockingly large figure.

West Yorkshire Police released a statement backing the national push, as they are in the top 20 hotspots in the UK for uninsured drivers. MIB figures estimated that 55,000 cars in West Yorkshire were uninsured.
Superintendent Mark Jessop of West Yorkshire Police’s Road Policing Unit said:

“Driving on West Yorkshire’s roads uninsured is not safe and will not be tolerated. We have dedicated officers across the force dealing with incidents on the roads on a daily basis.

On average we seize around 25 cars a day across the county for having no insurance.

It is often the case that a driver who does not insure their vehicle may not take other responsible steps in ensuring it is roadworthy, making it a potentially dangerous vehicle on our roads.

We would encourage all drivers to stay insured and to drive safely. If your vehicle is seized for having no insurance, you will have to pay to release that vehicle whilst also providing proof it is now insured within a fixed time. Ultimately, the vehicle could be crushed. In addition to the seizure costs, you face a fixed penalty of a £300 fine and six penalty points.”

Do you think it is fair that law-abiding citizens have to pay out £100 million a year for those who break the law? Should more be done for those who don’t pay for insurance? Let us know in the comments below

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