All 43 police forces in the UK are to hunt down uninsured motorists on the road as part of a dedicated campaign being sprung on illegal drivers this week.
‘Operation Driver Insured’ – which kicked off today and runs until 1 November – will see increased policing to detect and seize uninsured motors.
The crackdown comes as figures revealed that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year – equating to one every four minutes.
AA president Edmund King said he fully supported the seven-day sting, but added that it highlights a ‘fundamental’ lack of policing on our roads, which would result in uninsured drivers being caught ‘every day of the year rather than just in a one week campaign’.
Crackdown: ‘Operation Driver Insured’ kicks off today and run until 1 November. It should see increased policing on roads across the whole of the UK for a week
The sting has been launched as part of a collaboration between the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and the National Roads Policing Operations, Intelligence and Investigation committee.
The week-long operation bids to catch and punish those getting behind the wheel knowingly having no cover as official statistics show they cause a worrying volume of road casualties and often flee the scene of a crash.
Each year in the UK around 130 people are killed and 26,000 are left injured in collisions caused by uninsured and untraced drivers, linking to nearly one in every five road traffic collisions, the MIB says.
Evidence also shows motorists without insurance are more likely to commit a ‘hit and run’ and be involved in other crimes, be it using a stolen vehicle, driving while disqualified or substance abuse.
Insurers paid out a staggering £322million in compensation to victims of crashes involving uninsured drivers in 2019.
Department for Transport figures indicate these collisions cost the economy a further £2billion a year in emergency services, medical care, loss of productivity and property damage.
The MIB says compensation claims from victims of incidents involving uninsured drivers have fallen by a quarter since 2016.
However, with the financial hardship currently being endured by many due to Covid-19, insurers are becoming increasingly concerns that this could result in more people breaking the law and driving without cover.
Police forces have already taken to social media to post images of seized vehicles being driven by uninsured motorists
Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at MIB, said: ‘We’ve made great strides in getting more people to drive insured in recent years, but the sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up.
‘Everyone suffers the consequences of uninsured driving. We’re fully committed to our partnership with the police so we can get as many people as possible to drive insured to make roads safer and fairer for everyone.’
Edmund King, AA president, backed the week-long campaign but said it showed the fundamental lack of road policing all-year-round due to huge budgets cuts on forces
Edmund King, AA president, backed the campaign but said it highlighted the a fundamental lack of officers on our roads in recent years caused by the mass policing budget cuts.
‘The police are right to target uninsured drivers as not only are they involved in more collisions and fatalities but previous research for the Home Office shows that the worst motoring offenders are more likely to be involved in mainstream serious crime, ‘ he told This is Money.
‘Targeting an uninsured driver may make the roads and indeed society a safer place.
‘Whilst this campaign is welcome, there is a fundamental problem with the big decline in dedicated roads policing over the last decade.
‘If we had more ‘cops in cars’ out on the roads then such campaigns could be effective every day of the year rather than just in a one week campaign.’
The hashtag #OPDRIVEINSURED is being used on social media this week for police forces to showcase vehicles they’ve seized during the week-long sting
Figures show that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year – which equated to one seizure every four minutes
In order to catch offenders, the police can access the MIB’s database – a central record of all live motor insurance policies – to quickly spot if a vehicle has an alert for not showing valid cover.
If disputed by the driver, MIB can quickly liaise with insurers to confirm if valid insurance exists.
Drivers without insurance face their vehicle being seized and potentially crushed, along with a £300 fixed penalty notice and six licence points.
They can also be referred to court and face an unlimited fine and a driving ban.
Uninsured convictions also show on basic Disclosure and Barring Service checks which can impact employment prospects.
Commander Kyle Gordon, head of the National Roads Policing Operations, Intelligence and Investigation committee, said: ‘Many people will see uninsured driving as a victimless crime at best, or as only impacting on the profits of large insurance companies at worst. This is not the case.
‘We know from our work in roads policing that uninsured drivers are statistically significantly more likely to cause a death or injury on the road, which too often sadly brings devastation to victims, families and communities up and down the country. They are also frequently involved in wider road crime.
‘Protecting the public and keeping our roads safe for everyone is our priority and removing uninsured drivers from our roads helps to do just that.
‘This is why all police forces are acting to take uninsured drivers off the road every single day,’ he said.
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