Belfast Telegraph

PSNI to seize uninsured cars as clampdown begins

Campaign: Rosemary Leech
Campaign: Rosemary Leech
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A total of 31,000 motorists were driving uninsured in Northern Ireland during 2018, the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) has estimated.

The figure published by the group, which aims to help victims of uninsured drivers, comes as the PSNI revealed officers have seized 1,600 vehicles without insurance so far this year.

The PSNI - along with other police forces across the UK - embarked yesterday on a month-long operation to seize uninsured vehicles.

During last year's operation, the PSNI seized 213 vehicles during October and are hoping to achieve similar results this month.

Meanwhile, Operation Drive Insured, developed between the MIB and the National Police Chiefs Council's National Roads Policing Intelligence forum (NRPIF), will aim for increased enforcement activity to help improve road safety and raise public awareness of the issue.

The campaign follows climbing collision rates caused by drivers without valid insurance.

Uninsured drivers also cause a disproportionately high level of fatalities with over 130 people killed by an uninsured or untraced hit and run driver in the UK each year, according to MIB figures.

PSNI Inspector Rosemary Leech explained that during last year's operation the force embarked on a sustained social media campaign to accompany their enforcement actions.

"The PSNI recognise there is a well proven link between uninsured vehicles and other forms of criminality," said Inspector Leech.

"That's why this year we've already seized over 1,600 vehicles, thereby denying uninsured drivers the means to perpetuate this offence and prevent other illegal behaviour.

"Removing such vehicles reduces the risk to communities and helps us to keep people safe on our roads."

She added that last year's PSNI social media campaign prompted the MIB to comment that their coverage on #opdriveinsured was leading the way nationally with more coverage than ever thought possible.

"The PSNI have access to the industry database of uninsured vehicles which alerts us to the presence of such vehicles, thereby allowing us to focus in on this offending," added Inspector Leech.

"The driver will be offered a roadside fixed penalty of £200 plus six penalty points as an alternative to court, plus the release fee of £150 once they have proved their vehicle is now insured."

According to MIB, the economic impact of collisions caused by uninsured hit-and-run drivers is considerable.

UK-wide government figures for the average value of prevention of road traffic injuries compared against MIB's recorded rates indicate an annual economic cost of over £1.8bn.

This includes costs for emergency services, medical care, loss of productivity and property damage.

The economic impact of uninsured driving to the insurance industry comes to around £400m each year which is ultimately funded by those motorists who pay insurance premiums.

Anna Fleming, chief operating officer of MIB, said the organisation will continue to campaign to reduce the numbers of uninsured drivers.

"Having valid motor insurance is more than a legal requirement, it is designed to protect victims of road traffic collisions by providing them with financial compensation," she said.

"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."

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