Uninsured driver numbers on the increase

An 11-year-old boy was one of 991 children convicted of driving without insurance in 2014, according to the RAC – although that’s just a fraction of the one million drivers thought to be on our roads without insurance.

Its Freedom of Information request to the DVLA found that there had been a 21% rise in the number of under 17s convicted of driving without insurance from 2012 to 2014.

The youngest driver was an 11-year-old boy, with 32 times as many convictions in 2014 for boys (961) as girls (30).

Meanwhile, the conviction rate among drivers of all ages who did not hold valid driving licences and were caught without insurance also remained stubbornly high – rising 6% from 14,466 in 2012 to 15,307 in 2014.

In total – taking in full, provisional and non-licenced holders – 100,323 people were convicted in 2014, which is a 6% reduction compared to 106,233 in 2012.

Among drivers will full licences, 45,838 men were convicted of driving without a licence in 2014 compared to just 12,879 female convictions – although there was a nine per cent fall in the total number of convictions among men that hold full driving licences – from 50,454 in 2012 to 45,838 in 2014.

The RAC also discovered that some of the largest rises in convictions were among male full licence holders aged 65 and over. In this age group, convictions rose 23% from 809 (2012) to 992 (2014). Convictions involving women of the same age group grew 19% from 148 to 176 cases.

RAC insurance director Mark Godfrey said, ‘In trying to discover how many people have been convicted of driving without insurance, we found there is a shocking number of children who are caught driving before they’re even old enough to apply for a provisional licence, let alone have proper instruction.

‘Sadly, we may have little choice but to accept there will always be a minority of young males who will be prepared to drive without a licence or insurance. The fact that the number convicted has remained so high suggests a greater focus is needed to work with this group, so they understand better the risks and potential consequences of their actions.

‘It also continues to be the case that men, and indeed boys, are far more likely to be convicted of driving without insurance than women or girls.

‘But what is especially worrying is that these figures are really only the tip of the iceberg as the insurance industry estimates there are in the region of one million uninsured drivers on the road. This means only a tenth of drivers thought to be breaking the law in this way have been caught.

‘Insurance is a mandatory driving requirement for good reason; it’s there to protect drivers, as well as their passengers and other road users and property owners. Anyone who drives without insurance is not only breaking the law, they are also selfishly putting others, as well as themselves, at financial and legal risk.

‘The alarming increases revealed in this Freedom of Information request are all the more significant when you consider that the number of dedicated roads policing officers has declined by 23%, or 1,279 officers between 2010 and 2014, meaning there are fewer officers to catch offenders.

‘This fact has not been lost on drivers with 60% of motorists believing there are insufficient numbers of police officers on the roads to enforce driving laws, and as a result there is little chance of law-breakers being caught and prosecuted for anything other than speeding or running a red light, offences that tend to be enforced via cameras.

‘The recent double rise in Insurance Premium Tax by the Chancellor is unlikely to be helpful in reducing the numbers of uninsured drivers. Insurers will inevitably pass the increased IPT cost on to the motorist and higher premiums may encourage some, particularly younger drivers, to break the law.

‘Young people already pay the largest insurance premiums of all and this will only make things worse for them by making it even more expensive to gain the independence and work opportunities that having a car brings.

‘We urge the Government to treat telematics ‘black box’ car insurance policies that encourage young people to drive more safely to be exempt from IPT, or failing that for them to be given a lower rate which lessens their overall insurance costs.’