Thursday, October 20, 2011

Uninsured Drivers

It's good to see one of the first things the new Met Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, has done is crack down on uninsured drivers. Uninsured drivers are 5 times more likely to be involved in collisions than the rest of us, and are likely to have criminal convictions. It should be easy to take them off the road with ANPR technology linked to the insurance database. What's more, there are a lot of vehicles that are technically insured, but their drivers have lied about modifications to the car or about their personal history. Stop any car with blacked-out front side windows (and there are plenty of them around) and the vehicle insurance is likely to be invalid, because it doesn't conform to the construction and use regulations. No insurer would insure such a car.

The Met Police yesterday organized a crackdown with 1000 officers targeting uninsured vehicles. Different news sources have reported betwen 300 and 500 vehicles being seized. That doesn't sound like a very good hit rate to me, given that 1 in 7 drivers are estimated to be uninsured in London. To give you an idea, if you stand by a busy road like Kennington Park Road, you'll have in excess of a thousand vehicles passing you in an hour, of which over 140 will be uninsured. (That's assuming uninsured drivers clock up the same sort of mileage as other motorists and that they use the same routes, but even making pessimistic assumptions, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel.) Yet the Met achieved less than 1 vehicle impounded per officer per day. No-one in the mainstream press has questioned this hit-rate. I'd like to know what's going on. Did it take a day to file the paperwork on every car? Did they let off a lot of drivers with a caution and a friendly 'Mind how you go now' ? Did they spend a lot of time at the burger van on Clapham Common ? Or maybe there's something about nabbing one car in every seven that is a lot harder than it looks? Are there loopholes that enable drivers to slip through the net? I'd really love to know.

1 comment:

  1. I've thought for some time now that motor vehicles should be fitted with radio transducers that carry a unique ID. This would allow the authorities to place receivers in, say, lampposts or other street furniture, this info could then be used real-time to alert police to uninsured cars, used in conjunction with ANPR to do the same, linked in networks of hidden receivers to do average speed checks...
    The information could also be taken offline and analysed at leisure in databases to detect any duplication of these IDs and provide lots of traffic data for planning.
    The technology is here - I can buy a bluetooth headset for £4! Why does no-one suggest it - because it would be a vote loser among the motoring lobby.