New data reveals the high human cost of uninsured driving, showing that 25% of collisions they are involved in result in someone being injured or killed. So is it time to get tougher on those who drive without insurance?
Being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver is among most motorists’ worst fears.
We all know these drivers are out there, and many of us feel a prickle of outrage when we hand over the cash for our yearly insurance premiums, angrily imagining the scores of people who aren’t bothering to buy cover.
Now, new research reveals the scale of the problem. According to a report from Direct Line and road safety charity Brake, 3.3 million drivers (1 in 10) have been involved in a collision with a driver who was uninsured.
High financial costs
In a previous Which? Conversation post, I pointed out that honest drivers who dutifully renew their insurance policies each year are effectively making up the shortfall for those who don’t.
Uninsured drivers cost the UK £500m each year, according to Direct Line and Brake – which means the rest of us shell out around £30 every year on their behalf.
Elsewhere, the Co-op has claimed the combined sum lost to uninsured driving and insurance fraud is much higher – upwards of a £1bn a year, equating to roughly £50 per law-abiding motorist.
The even higher human cost
But what about the fact that uninsured driving ruins lives and kills people – not just bruises our already-battered budgets?
Direct Line and Brake’s survey found that, of crashes involving uninsured drivers, 25% ended up with someone being injured. Among these accidents, 4% left at least one person dead.
And it’s often law-abiding drivers who are hurt. Of the drivers who’d been involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, 15% said they’d been injured. Adding insult to injury, in 17% of collisions studied as part of the research, the uninsured driver did not stop – choosing instead to leave the scene of the accident.
How to handle uninsured drivers?
When I wrote about uninsured drivers in 2010, I received a passionate response from Which? Conversation readers – some of whom believed we should ban uninsured drivers from taking to the roads ever again. However, Richard Emery pointed out:
‘Banning uninsured drivers may have limited effect because anyone who drives without insurance is quite likely to drive when banned. If they own the car that they are driving then it should be confiscated and sold, with the money going to the MIB.’
Under the new system of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) it’s now an offence for anyone to keep, not just to drive, an uninsured vehicle. The DVLA is to work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify uninsured vehicles, whose owners will then be warned that action will follow if they do not purchase cover.
If the owner of an uninsured vehicle does not buy insurance, they will face a £100 fine and may have their car seized and destroyed.
But is this the best way to tackle the problem? Do you think CIE will be effective – and are these penalties really tough enough?