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Uninsured Driving in Britain Today - Legal Obligations
UK law enforces the taking out of insurance by all drivers, and to drive uninsured is a punishable offence. Third-party insurance is the minimum required by law, covering the driver for costs incurred by injury to other persons or animals and damage to property, e.g. another vehicle in a collision. However, it does not cover the costs of the driver’s own vehicle or property in case of accident.
If you get into a collision with another driver causing damage or injury, you are obliged to give anybody having ‘reasonable grounds’ for requesting them the following: your name and address, your vehicle’s registration number, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner if you are driving someone else’s vehicle. Moreover, if you do not give your details at the time of the accident, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours, and you must report it to your insurance provider even if you are not planning to submit a claim for yourself. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver you must also tell the police, and you may be able to claim compensation for personal injury or damage to your vehicle or other property via the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
Driving without insurance may incur a fixed penalty of £200 and 6 points on your licence. If the case is serious enough to go to the magistrates’ court, you may have to pay a fine up to £5000 and be disqualified from driving. Disqualification obliges you to take a retest when the the ban expires.
In August 2012 the police arrested the one millionth uninsured driver stopped during a campaign to stamp out the offence beginning in 2005, according to the MIB. Since the police were granted powers to stop suspect drivers, employing number-plate-recognition technology that checks passing vehicles’ registration numbers against the MIB insurance database, 500 vehicles a day have been seized, and 30% of these have been scrapped.
But the AA claim an estimated 1.2 million uncovered vehicles are still plying Britain’s highways and byways: roughly 1 in every 25. For example, a collision in Birmingham, a hot-spot for uninsured driving, is eight times more likely than average to involve an uncovered driver, and West Midlands Police are stopping and impounding one uninsured vehicle every hour.
The consequences of all this uninsured driving are serious, sometimes tragic. Every year 160 people are killed and 23,000 are injured by uncovered drivers, while the MIB’s costs add an estimated £33 to honest drivers’ premiums. A first policy taken out by a new driver may cost more than £3000, for example.
The average fine for an offence is about £200, and this may not provide sufficient deterrence to the average uninsured driver: a young man without a licence driving a poorly maintained car having no MOT or tax disc. Such drivers often disregard motoring laws and go on to re-offend.