Police forces around the UK have launched a month-long campaign aimed at catching uninsured drivers and seizing their cars.
Operation Drive Insured will run for the whole of October and see forces step up enforcement activity to identify uninsured drivers and get them off the road.
It is estimated that every 20 minutes someone is injured in a collision caused by an uninsured or untraced hit and run driver, and 130 people are killed by such drivers each year.
Those behind the operation hope it will improve road safety by removing uninsured vehicles and drivers and raise awareness of the offence among the public.
The operation by forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland follows a similar crackdown by Police Scotland in September and will see them working with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) to identify uninsured vehicles.
During the month-long campaign police will access MIB’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) to check passing vehicles’ registration plates to ensure they are insured. If a driver denies being uninsured MIB can quickly liaise with insurers to confirm if valid insurance exists or not.
Anyone caught driving without valid insurance faces having their vehicle seized and potentially crushed. They also face a minimum fine of £300 and six penalty points. However, they can be referred to court where they face an unlimited fine and driving ban.
Last year 132,804 uninsured vehicles were seized across the UK.
“Police forces take action every day against those who choose not to insure their vehicles,” said Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs Council. “This coordinated NPCC campaign highlights the issue of uninsured driving and anyone stopped by the police who is not insured can expect to have their vehicle seized and face a substantial fine as a consequence.”
Uninsured drivers are thought to cost the UK more than £1.8 billion a year through costs for emergency services, medical care, loss of productivity and property damage. The price of protecting other road users from them is estimated to cost the insurance industry around £400 million, which is passed on to insured drivers through higher premiums.
Data from the MIB shows drivers without insurance are more likely to commit a ‘hit and run’ and be involved in other crimes. The MIB says it records frequent examples where uninsured drivers are committing a further offence, be it using a stolen vehicle, driving while disqualified or substance abuse.
Uninsured driving levels have not been helped by a growing trend for “ghost broking”, where fraudsters posing as insurance brokers offer illegal and invalid insurance policies at an unrealistically low cost. The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), a sub-company of MIB that investigates organised insurance fraud, has seen investigations into ghost broking double since 2015.