Uninsured drivers cost the country millions of punds every year. Even through their numbers are starting to decline, there are still over 1 million of them on the road. A new proposal from the Prime Minister's Office recommends utilising petrol station cameras to catch these drivers.
The idea behind this scheme is to use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) software that's already available at petrol forecourts to stop uninsured drivers when they try to fill up. This would then be linked to an existing insurance database and prevent them from buying any petrol. The police would also be alerted to thewhereabouts of the uninsured driver. It's hoped that unlawful drivers would then get the message that if they haven't got any insurance they'll be unable to put fuel in their cars.
The problems with uninsured drivers
Drivers without insurance push up premiums for every single other vehicle user in the UK. This relates to around £33 extra on each policy: overall, uninsured drivers cost the country £380 million a year. With one in 25 drivers on the road uninsured, you're more likely to be hit by one than in most other European countries.
Those drivers who have no insurance and are involved in an accident could be in trouble even if their driving skills aren't in question. On their legal blog QualitySolicitorshighlight the case of an uninsured driver who was travelling below the speed limit when another driver under the influence of drugs crashed into him and died. The uninsured driver was initially held criminally responsible, but this was later changed on appeal
What powers do the police have?
Since 2005, numbers of uninsured drivers have decreased significantly, thanks in part to additional powers that the police have to seize vehicles. Eight years ago there were around 2 million uninsured drivers and this has now fallen to about 1.2 million. The police already use their own ANPR software and are able to seize cars if drivers are caught driving without insurance. The owner will then have to produce an insurance document, as well as paying significant storage costs and a fee to have the vehicle released. As well as having their cars seized, drivers can face six penalty points on their licence and a £300 fixed penalty notice. If their case is more severe or ends up in court, the fines could be much higher.
Making a claim against an uninsured driver
Unfortunately, if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, making a claim for damages or compensation can be difficult and time consuming. Often you'll have to go through your own insurance company,which means you'll end up having to pay the excess amount and losing any no claims bonus. There is an alternative, though, through a Motor Insurers' Bureau scheme. This is open to fully insured drivers where the other driver doesn't have any insurance. You can make a claim for car repairs and personal injury compensation, which are paid for through insurance premiums.