Posted: under General, Parliament, Policy.
Tags: credit crunch, enforcement, Road safety, uninsured drivers
Mark Hunter MP
Mark Hunter is the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle. Mark is also the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Liberal Democrat Leader, and is the Liberal Democrat deputy spokesman on Transport issues.
The effects of the credit crunch haven’t stopped at the banks, our wallets or the high street. The repercussions of people feeling the pinch are widespread – we’re all trying to save money in small ways hoping to make a big difference. The problem is that some people will choose illegal ‘shortcuts’ to save them money – like avoiding paying their car insurance.
It’s clear that the numbers of uninsured drivers are rising. Although calculating exact numbers is impossible, we do know that while fatalities from road accidents are in decline those involving uninsured drivers have increased dramatically. In fact estimates place the number of uninsured drivers at around 6.5% of all drivers or about 2 million motorists.
Uninsured drivers cost law abiding drivers money. The Motor Insurance Bureau calculates that uninsured drivers add £30 to the cost of every driver’s insurance policy, amounting to more than £500m a year in additional premiums – a cost that many of us can ill afford in the current economic climate.
What is even more worrying is that uninsured drivers are more likely to be dangerous drivers. According to the RAC Foundation, uninsured drivers are six times more likely to drive a non road-worthy vehicle, up to nine times more likely to be involved in an accident and ten times more likely to have been convicted of drink driving. In fact the most recent estimates by the DfT show that uninsured drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 each year.
It’s clear that the Government is failing to tackle the growing menace of uninsured drivers. In fact, the average fine for driving without insurance has fallen by 13.4% between 1997 (£224) and 2007 (£194). Meanwhile, the average premium for comprehensive insurance is over £700 (2009) – much more than the average fine. By allowing insurance costs to increase far above the fine, the Government are not sending a clear message that driving without insurance does not pay. Unless the Government works with insurance companies to make premiums more affordable and ensures that fines reflect the seriousness of the crime, there will continue to be little incentive for people to pay for their insurance. Instead these drivers will continue to prefer to chance that they will not get caught.
Lack of enforcement is the other problem. Technological advances such as roadside insurance checks and automatic number plate recognition are effective, but only if there are enough officers to use them. We need the Government to make enforcement of this problem a higher priority and try some new ideas to improve compliance. One such proposal is based on the system in France whereby all drivers have to display proof of their insurance and MOT certification in their windscreen, thereby ensuring that officials can quickly and easily see which cars are not insured.
With uninsured drivers taking three lives per week on our roads, this problem is not a small one; the Government needs to recognise this and take action now to prevent this problem growing.
Posted: under General, Parliament.
Tags: DSA, House of Lords, young drivers
Viscount Simon is President of the Driving Instructors Association and GEM Motoring Assist, as well as being a Vice Chairman of PACTS. He is one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords and sits for the Labour Party.
I passed my driving test in my teens. I was a fantastic driver; I loved my car until I crashed it and ended up in hospital. Then I started to learn how to drive.
Just because you have a driving license does not necessarily mean you know how to drive properly. Once you have built up experience over the years you will then know what it means to be able to drive.
Sitting next to a driving instructor, be it, a professional or a parent you have support in the car but once out on the open road by yourself you are the only person you can rely on to read the road
The age group 16-29 are responsible, within their first two years of motoring, for 42% of fatalities on our roads. We shouldn’t blame them for their inadequacy. How can the system help them to be better?
The testing process in this county needs to be reformed, one which tests that learners can drive safely, not just master how to control a car and there is also a need to help drivers develop and maintain high standards for life, especially if they drive for work.. Learning has always taken place before long term retention by being able to read and research a topic with assistance from qualified individuals. The publishing of a question bank does not encourage long term retention and should, therefore, be abandoned so that candidates who wish to learn to drive study the whole syllabus and work through a series of workbooks to understand and gain long term knowledge for safer driving.
I wonder if the DSA should channel their efforts towards the assessment of driving ability and let qualified instructors certify the manoeuvres prior to a driving test thereby allowing more time on the driving test for examiners to assess driving ability.
Despite the fall in the number of road deaths most recently published we cannot be complacent because further reductions are possible and, indeed, preferable. Better learning must be part of that process of further reduction.
Posted: under General, Parliament.
Tags: Louise Ellman MP, Novice Drivers, Road safety, Transport Select Committee
Louise has been a long standing member of the Transport Select Committee and in May 2008, Louise was elected as its Chair. Louise has been Joint Chair of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) since 2006.
The latest official statistics on road accidents show a welcome reduction in the number of people killed or injured on our roads. Yet even with this improvement, 2, 946 deaths and 247, 780 road injuries were recorded on our roads in 2007.
Imagine what kind of outcry there would be if that toll of deaths or injuries occurred on our railways, planes or ships. Yet, deaths on the road are seen as a series of individual incidents rather than as an unacceptable national calamity.
The Transport Select Committee recent Report, ‘Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010’, challenges this attitude. In calling for an end to complacency, it asks for road accidents to be treated in the same way as those in other modes of transport.
Underneath the statistics lie areas of particular concern. One related to young, new drivers aged between 18 and 25 years of age. This situation was investigated in the Transport Select Committee Report “Novice Drivers.” The uncomfortable truth is that, while novice drivers constitute one in eight driving licence holders they account for one in three deaths. Even more horrendous, one in two drivers killed at night are under the age of 25. One suggestion in our report is that drink-driving limits be reduced for these young drivers.
Another acute concern relates to children from poorer socio – economic backgrounds. These pedestrians are 21 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident that those from the highest socio – economic groups.
The Report made a number of specific suggestions. These include; permitting local authorities to designate more 20 mile per hour zones, questioning the validity of the statistics defining seriously injured road causalities, improving enforcement and implementing our earlier recommendations in relation to novice drivers.
But beyond the specific suggestions, we called for the setting up of an independent Commission on road safety, recognising this is a major public health issue. Behind every statistic of death and serious injury lies a broken and devastated family. That is why it is time to recognise road safety as a major policy issue worthy of more serious consideration. That is the challenge before us.
Louise Ellman MP