Written by Graham Cutbill-White
We’ve been digging into the Ministry of Justice’s motoring crime data, and discovered some shocking statistics about uninsured drivers in England and Wales.
From regions where the scale of uninsured driving is much higher than average, to a few which serve as glowing examples of how to stay on the right side of the law, our hotspot map pinpoints the highs and lows of motoring crime statistics in these two UK countries.
Speeding is the most prolific crime on our roads, making up 25% of all motoring prosecutions in the last decade, while driving uninsured makes up around 16%, and 8% are for drunk or drug driving. But in spite of this, there are plenty of places where you’re more likely to cross paths with an uninsured driver than a speeding one.
Lancashire tops an unfortunate leader board for having the most uninsured driving prosecutions per 1,000 people of any policing region in England and Wales, based on figures for the last 10 years.
Across all regions, there have been an average of 21 prosecutions for driving without insurance per 1,000 people in the area. In Lancashire, there are 36 per 1,000.
You can receive a £300 fine and six points on your licence for driving without appropriate insurance, meaning Lancashire’s 43,301 prosecutions could have cost law-breakers as much as £12,990,300 in total, as well as adding 259,806 points to licences in the region.
The number of people driving without insurance in London is considerably higher than the number of people breaking the speed limit: 78% higher, to be precise. Shockingly, Greater London also sees the same amount of fatalities caused by uninsured drivers as fatalities caused by drunk and drug drivers. It’s also the region with the most deaths caused by uninsured drivers over the last 10 years.
As you can see in the table below, Greater London is in the top five areas for uninsured driving in England and Wales. It’s not all bad news though, as the number of drunk and drug drivers in this area is slightly lower than average – at around eight instances per 1,000 people, versus a national average of 11.
Like Lancashire, Cheshire has topped the charts in ways we expect it wouldn’t wish to, taking top position as region with the largest number of drunk and drug driving prosecutions in recent years: 20 per 1,000 people.
Cheshire also has the third highest amount of uninsured driving prosecutions per 1,000 people, beaten only by Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
Across England and Wales, the rate of drunk and drug driving has dropped significantly in the last decade – from just over 66,000 instances in 2008 to around 46,000 offences in 2018. Meanwhile the volume of speeding offences has remained fairly constant; but the number of uninsured drivers has started to creep back up after a temporary lull.
Having dropped from 175,000 in 2008 to just over 79,000 in 2015, prosecutions for driving an uninsured vehicle have risen every year since, with 2018 seeing at least 95,280 uninsured drivers on the roads in England and Wales. According to the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, uninsured drivers caused over 26,000 injuries in 2018 alone – potentially because it’s the more reckless among us who are happy to take to the road uninsured.
Here are a few other parts of England and Wales that have made it onto the hotspot list.
Though motoring crime on the whole is low in the Durham area, it’s a region that has seen 110% more uninsured drivers over the last decade than excessive speeders, and a slightly higher than average rate of drunk or drug driving.
In October 2019, Durham Police force teamed up with Cleveland Police to launch a crackdown on uninsured drivers. As highlighted on our map of uninsured driver hotspots, neighbouring Cleveland is another area where you’ll find more uninsured drivers on the road than speeders, or people intoxicated at the wheel.
As well as having more uninsured drivers than speeding drivers, the West Midlands has also seen the second highest number of fatalities caused by uninsured drivers over the last decade. The only place where uninsured drivers have caused more fatalities is Greater London, and the only place with more uninsured driving prosecutions per 1,000 people is Lancashire.
A redeeming feature for the area is that the number of drunk and drug drivers has halved in the last decade, dropping from 3,722 prosecutions in 2008 to 1,669 in 2018.
The numbers are small, with just a handful of fatalities on Northumbria’s roads caused by either uninsured drivers or drunk drivers each year. However, it’s still worth noting that statistically, you’re more likely to be killed by an uninsured driver here than an intoxicated one.
Over the period of 2008 to 2018, four people were killed on Northumbria’s roads by drunk or drug drivers. For the same date range, 12 were killed by uninsured drivers.
It’s not all bad news in our run down of motoring crime in the UK: the Avon and Somerset policing region can speak proudly of the drivers on its roads. This part of the UK has the fewest uninsured drivers, at just 12 prosecutions per 1,000 people over the last decade.
Finally, it’s good news for South Wales, the UK’s seventh largest policing region. Covering Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and West Glamorgan, South Wales has seen just 7 drunk or drug driving prosecutions per 1,000 people over the last decade. As well as putting the area firmly below average in terms of the quantity of intoxicated drivers, this also means they have the fewest drunk and drug drivers of any part of England and Wales.
Just as you shouldn’t drive tired, it should go without saying that nobody should drive while under the influence of alcohol (or other drugs!). But while most of us would never dream of getting behind the wheel after we’ve been drinking, or indeed driving above the speed limit, it seems there are still plenty of drivers travelling Britain’s roads uninsured.
Whether you’re borrowing a friend’s car or driving a new car home from the forecourt, a temporary car insurance policy ensures that you’re legally covered to drive on public roads. With policies available for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks, make sure you’re on the right side of the law, and don’t set off without proper insurance.
MoJ Motoring Prosecution Data Tool
ONS Population Estimates