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Fewer uninsured drivers on the road

Car insurance claim - RAC

New data has revealed that there’s been a big drop in the number of people caught driving without insurance.

A freedom of information request to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) by RAC Insurance found that 79,713 people were caught breaking the law in this way in 2018.

This is in stark contrast to 2017 when 118,698 people were caught – the highest in the seven years analysed – representing a 33% reduction. In comparison to 2012 however, when the figure stood at 108,616, the decrease is smaller at 27%.

The offence of using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks carries six to eight penalty points which must stay on the person’s driving record for four years from the time of being caught.

Drivers caught by a police officer using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks
Year Number of offences Year-on-year % change % change 2018 to 2012
2012 108,616 N/A N/A
2013 108,486 0% N/A
2014 102,417 -6% N/A
2015 92,804 -9% N/A
2016 113,502 22% N/A
2017 118,698 5% N/A
2018 79,713 -33% -27%

Looking at those under the age of 17 who are not even old enough to have lessons on public roads, there were a total of 872 such offences in 2018. This is 47% fewer than 2017 when there were 1,644 and 31% less than the 1,255 recorded in 2012. The highest number of drivers below the legal driving age caught since 2012 was 1,652 in 2016.

The youngest offenders in 2018 were two 11-year-olds, but the youngest on record since 2012 was a 10-year-old who was caught in 2016.

At the other end of the age spectrum a 96-year-old was also found to be driving without insurance in 2018 – the oldest person caught for the offence since 2012.

Drivers aged 24 generated the highest number of uninsured convictions in 2018 (3,309), but the largest number of these offences by people of one age seen across any year since 2012 was recorded in 2017 when there were 5,052 23-year-olds found to be driving without insurance.

In 2011 the Department for Transport, in conjunction with the DVLA and the Motor Insurers Bureau, introduced Continuous Insurance Enforcement. This involves the two organisations working together to send warning letters to uninsured drivers and then subsequently issuing fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for those who fail to take out insurance.

“The introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement in 2011 more than likely explains the reduction seen in the following four years, but we believe the increases in 2016 and 2017 are related to a rise in the average cost of insurance,” said RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey.

“In November 2015 the Government raised Insurance Premium Tax from 6% to 9.5% and followed this with two more increases, taking it to 12%.

“This, along with other factors, added £100 to the average cost of insurance by the end of 2017 which unfortunately could explain why more people drove uninsured. This is further borne out by the higher number of fixed penalty notices issued by the DVLA through the Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme over the same period.

“The sharp drop in driving without insurance offences seen in 2018 is harder to explain as while the average insurance premiums began to fall the reduction in price does not seem great enough to cause such a significant change in behaviour.”

Fixed Penalty Notices issued by DVLA for driving without insurance under Continuous Insurance Enforcement
Year Number of offences Year-on-year % change % change 2018 to 2012
2012 170,810 N/A N/A
2013 216,287 27% N/A
2014 221,386 2% N/A
2015 207,240 -6% N/A
2016 216,987 5% N/A
2017 247,589 14% N/A
2018 208,619 -16% 22%


About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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