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IAM backs move to crack down on uninsured drivers

Friday, 17 April 2009

The UK’s estimated two million uninsured drivers face an instant fine should the latest Government proposals go ahead. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has backed the move, claiming it will protect the vast majority of law abiding motorists - as long as databases are reliable.

Under new proposals from the Department for Transport, using the 2006 Road Safety Act, vehicles and motorists will have to be continuously insured, whether the vehicle is kept and used on a road or not. The DVLA will send reminder letters to motorists whose insurance is soon to expire. If they ignore this letter and don’t renew their motor insurance, they will be issued with an automatic fine.

IAM chief examiner, Peter Rodger, said: "The proposal will help reduce the numbers of people who had genuinely forgotten their insurance was up for renewal. However, those who deliberately flout the law are unlikely to be phased by the new proposals as they will continue to find ways to work the system."

"It's worth remembering that a crash involving an uninsured driver is particularly fraught. A worst case scenario is when the uninsured driver will be in an unregistered vehicle, untaxed and without a current MOT – there are a host of road safety issues when some drivers choose to simply drop below the radar."

"These illegal motorists not only represent a threat to other road users, but also place a financial burden on the remaining 94 per cent of law abiding motorists."

The proposal entirely depends on the accuracy of both the DVLA keeper records and the Motor Insurance Database (MID). The IAM is concerned about their reliability.

Mr Rodger added: "There are regular instances where the MID has provided inaccurate information to police enforcement units, leading to mistaken action against drivers and vehicles which are in fact insured. It would be unfair for a motorist to receive a fine if the database in incorrect. We also recommend that a check against the Police National Computer is carried out, so the victim of a crime, such as theft, does not have to prove to the police that they already hold a report."

The IAM would like assurances from the DVLA that these accuracy problems will be addressed before placing unnecessary concern onto law abiding motorists. Enforcement measures such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and road traffic policing are crucial for any new scheme to be effective.