Winter’s arrived, bringing with it the usual rain, snow, ice and traffic chaos. But these aren’t the only risks on our roads for the next few months, although they certainly don’t help.
Other road users themselves pose just as much, if not more, of a threat in early 2023 – not least uninsured drivers, who’d leave you with the bill in the event of a collision. To put the scale of the issue in real terms, Xcite Car Leasing contacted each UK police force and requested the number of uninsured drivers caught over the last six years.
More Than 2,500 Uninsured Drivers are Caught Every Month
Since 2017 alone, UK traffic coppers have stopped 192,663 uninsured drivers. On average, that’s 32,111 incidents per year – meaning 2,676 motorists are caught without valid insurance each month in the UK.
And these results are based only on the responses we received, so the total figure could still be significantly higher.
Bedfordshire is Home to More Uninsured Drivers than Any Other Area
With almost 50,000 uninsured drivers caught since 2017 (48,108), Bedfordshire Police has stopped more perpetrators than any other force.
That equates to 8,018 every year, meaning more than one in ten drivers (11,489 per 100,000 drivers) have been caught behind the wheel without proper insurance. The punishment is a fine and six penalty points on your driving licence – halfway to a driving ban.
Second is South Wales, with 18,274 incidents since 2017 and 2,205 uninsured drivers for every 100,000 licence holders. Third-placed Northamptonshire had 14,075 total incidents and 3,028 uninsured drivers per 100,000.
One in Five Drivers in Central London are Uninsured
Although the City of London has the lowest number of uninsured drivers (only 1,026 since 2017), it’s place here is somewhat misleading. On the number of uninsured drivers as a proportion of each area’s driving population, the City of London is far and away the worst with a huge 19,207 uninsured drivers per 100,000 – equal to one in every five.
Although this is an equivalent figure, as the City of London’s population is only 8,700 strong, the influx of drivers from surrounding areas means it could well be reality. The Square Mile’s council, so called because it covers just 1.12 square miles of the capital, estimates that 513,000 commuters cross its boundaries every day.
By comparison, Cumbria has only double the number of uninsured drivers (2,164), despite a population that’s 57 times the size of the City of London’s (500,000 to 8,700).
Essex Drivers are the Least Likely to be Hit by an Uninsured Driver
Essex Police stop only 580 uninsured drivers each year – that, paired with the area having the third-largest driving population (estimated at 1.1 million), makes for a rate of only 305 motorists without cover for every 100,000 drivers.
Surrey is only just worse off on that metric, with a rate of 347 per 100,000 respectively.
Drivers in the South are Most at Risk
The five UK regions with the highest number of uninsured drivers (East of England, Wales, East Midlands, West Midlands and South East) are in the bottom half of the UK. In total, these regions alone have 147,213 uninsured drivers and an average rate of 5,255 uninsured drivers for every 100,000 of the driving population – more than one in 20.
In the East of England, the worst region for both number and rate of uninsured drivers, police have stopped 60,577 motorists without cover since 2017. Although this region covers Essex, the area with the lowest rate of uninsured drivers, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire skew the results.
Roads in the North of England are the Safest
The North East, North West and Yorkshire & the Humber occupy three of the top four positions at the more favourable end of the results, with an average of only 1,642 uninsured drivers per 100,000 licence holders and a total of 28,593 incidents. The North East is the only region with a rate of less than 1,000 uninsured drivers per 100,000.
However, some of the larger forces, such as Northumbria Police and Greater Manchester Police, aren’t present in the results. In many cases, the requested data wasn’t available or hadn’t been received at the time of writing.
Five Tips for Finding Cheaper Car Insurance Premiums
Not only is driving without insurance illegal, with the chance of landing a fine and six penalty points, but there are also benefits to being covered that go beyond keeping your licence. Below, we’ve outlined some quick tips to help you find the best deal when taking out car insurance:
1. Always shop around: whether renewing or shopping for your very first insurance policy, browse the price comparison and insurance sites for the best deal. You may even find a discount through a provider you use for other products, such as home insurance.
2. Consider which extras are most beneficial: the initial quote given usually won’t include handy extras like breakdown cover and a courtesy car when needed. Work out which extras are most useful to you and compare quotes that include these.
3. Consider incentives: many providers and price comparison sites offer incentives for choosing them, including gift cards, shopping vouchers and cinema tickets. Factoring these into the overall costs could help you pick a clear winner.
4. Add additional drivers: especially for recently passed drivers, adding other drivers to a policy can result in savings as the insurer assumes the car won’t just be driven by an inexperienced driver, lowering the chance of an accident.
5. Try alternative job titles: many jobs fall under several job titles, so try a few alternatives to see if this lowers your quotes. Just make sure the title you choose matches your role – deliberately choosing an incorrect title could result in the insurer not paying out in the event of an accident.
For the purpose of this study, we sent Freedom of Information requests to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces. In this request, we asked for ‘The number of uninsured drivers that have been caught driving without insurance in your area since the beginning of 2017 up until the most present 2022 data’.
Though not all of the 45 police forces responded or provided the data, 22 did reply with the relevant information at the time of writing. We were then able to determine which areas of the UK were the worst for drivers without the relevant car insurance and which had the lowest number of offenders.
The rate of uninsured drivers per 100,000 of total drivers was calculated by applying the percentage of drivers to the UK population (61%) to each area’s population.
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