Uninsured drivers escaping with small fines

Insurance clamdown
14 Apr, 2014 11:30am Joe Finnerty

Motorists caught driving without car insurance being fined less than half the average cost for insuring a car.

Fines issued to half a million UK motorists caught driving without insurance since 2010 are, on average, just a fraction of the maximum penalty available, according to figures from Churchill Car Insurance.

South Yorkshire courts treat uninsured drivers the ‘best’, with an average fine of just £260. Compare that to Warwickshire courts which hand out the harshest penalties with an average fine of £385, but that’s still nowhere near the maximum available penalty of £5,000. The average fine across the UK is £322, highlighting a national inconsistency in the penalties for uninsured drivers.

Ministry of Justice statistics show penalties have increased since 2010, but they are still typically only half the £600 cost of an average annual car insurance premium.

Of the 473,564 motorists handed points for driving without insurance since 2010, more than 5,000 have received two or more endorsements for the offence. Untraced and uninsured drivers cause 130 deaths and 26,000 injuries every year on UK roads.

Black box car insurance to become the norm

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, said: “There are shocking numbers of irresponsible motorists taking to the roads without mandatory cover. Higher fines would undoubtedly help discourage these offenders.”

“Courts can issue £5,000 fines to uninsured drivers. But the police’s fixed penalty notice is just £300 – half the average annual insurance premium. 

Highest average fines for uninsured drivers by region 
Warwickshire £385
Cheshire £362
London £354
Northamptonshire £350
Lancashire £345
Lowest average fines for uninsured drivers by region
South Yorkshire £260
Durham £263
Humberside £272
Northumbria £274
Devon and Cornwall £275

Auto Express opinion: uninsured drivers

Auto Express has spent a lot of time with the Metropolitan Police recently, learning how it targets uninsured drivers. 

Officers did admit, though, that they come across motorists  who are caught reoffending mere hours after retrieving seized cars from the pound. What more conclusive proof could there be that the current penalties for driving uninsured are simply inadequate?

What adds to the frustration is the realisation that this is a problem that’s easy to solve. The current levels of fine simply aren’t a deterrent, and until they’re hiked up significantly, that’ll continue to be the case.

How can we tackle the problem of uninsured drivers in the UK? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below...