Almost one in 15 cars on Britain’s roads is being driven while uninsured, new government figures show.
More than 2.1 million vehicles on UK roads are being driven while uninsured, with opposition MPs accusing ministers of grossly underestimating the severity of the problem and doing little to tackle it.
Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone said the figures she had been given by the Department for Transport showed a rise of 100,000 in just one year and now amounts to 6.5% of all vehicles in the UK.
Insured ‘pick up bill’
Those drivers, she said, were responsible for committing more crimes and often left insured motorists – the ‘good guys’ – picking up the bill through increased premiums.
‘As with most crime it is inevitably the law-abiding public that end up footing the bill with uninsured drivers costing us on average £30 more in premiums,’ said Ms Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
She went on: ‘It is government without due care and attention; their policies for pursuing uninsured drivers have been a total failure and it is about time they accepted the facts and took action.’
The Department for Transport (DfT) disputed the rise in the figures, saying there had actually been a 4.2% drop in claims for compensation for the victims of uninsured drivers.
A Parliamentary answer by transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: ‘There are about 2.1 million licensed vehicles (about 6.5% of the UK vehicle fleet) being driven by uninsured drivers.
‘We have no long term evidence on trends… and there is some recent evidence from the insurance industry showing that for the year 2006 there was a 4.2% drop in claims for compensation for the victims of uninsured drivers.’
A DfT spokesman said new measures – automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology and increased powers for police to seize cars – had begun to tackle the problem.
New legislation being brought in would be similar to TV licensing systems where car owners would be tracked by computer if their vehicles were not registered as insured.
ANPR technology, he added, was catching up to 1,500 cars a week.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that uninsured drivers are six times more likely to be driving a non road-worthy vehicle, three times more likely to have been convicted of driving without due care and attention and ten times more likely to have been convicted of drink driving.
An ABI spokesman said any increase in figures may just be more offenders being tracked and caught by police using new powers to take cars off uninsured drivers.
He said: ‘There is a lot of work going on at the moment to clamp down on it – 50,000 cars are being seized and crushed each year.’
The costs of uninsured drivers had risen from £200 million in 2005 compared to £164 million in 2003 but the numbers of claims had actually fallen from 37,000 in 2005 to 24,000 last year.
The ABI is also pushing for an increase in the penalties paid by drivers who are caught, who are often fined just £150 for the offence.
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