According to estimates from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), one person in the UK is injured every 20 minutes in an incident caused by either an uninsured or untraced driver. In response to this, police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are collaborating on a month-long initiative, ‘Operation Drive Insured’, to raise awareness of the issue and improve safety on the roads by seizing the vehicles of uninsured drivers.
In 2018, MIB recorded more than 26,000 personal injuries from the types of collisions described above; additionally, it found that drivers who are uninsured are responsible for a disproportionate amount of fatalities on the road. An estimated 130 people are killed by either uninsured or untraced drivers annually in the UK. Government figures also put yearly economic losses from such incidents at more than £1.8 billion.
“This co-ordinated campaign highlights the issue of uninsured driving,” commented Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC Lead for roads policing, “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.”
The insurance industry takes a beating from these incidents as well, with the economic impact to the industry estimated at £400 million annually – costs that are ultimately passed on to motorists through higher premiums.
“Having valid motor insurance is more than a legal requirement,” said Anna Fleming, MIB’s Chief Operating Officer. “It is designed to protect victims of road traffic collisions by providing them with financial compensation. We will continue our long-standing partnership with UK police to ensure that everyone on the roads has insurance and to make uninsured driving socially unacceptable.”
This last point is key – statistically, it seems that uninsured drivers are more likely to commit road offences because they do not feel obligated to drive safely. This is partly financial, but also a wider issue of social norms; hopefully, as well as taking the potentially dangerous vehicles of uninsured drivers off the roads, this initiative will increase the stigma around such illegal activities and encourage more motorists to get coverage.