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Over three million drivers have been in a crash with an uninsured driver

14th April 2011

  • One in four collisions have resulted in either injury or death
  • One in six uninsured drivers failed to stop at the scene of the crash

Research* from Direct Line and road safety charity Brake has revealed that 3.3 million drivers** (one in ten), have been involved in a collision with a driver who was uninsured.

The danger that uninsured drivers bring to the roads is very real. Of those crashes involving uninsured drivers, 25 per cent ended up with someone being injured, of which four per cent left at least one person dead.

The survey found that all too often it is law abiding drivers who are injured. Fifteen per cent of drivers who have been in a crash with an uninsured driver said that they had been hurt and 10 per cent said their passengers had been hurt.

Not only are uninsured drivers causing death and injury on our roads, their attitude at the scene of crashes underlines their lack of concern for the safety of others and an overriding priority not to get caught. In 17 per cent of collisions, the uninsured driver did not stop and left the scene. Even when they did stop, they still tried to evade being caught; 32 per cent lied and said they were insured and 23 per cent tried to ‘not get the insurers involved’.

Andy Goldby, Director of Motor Underwriting at Direct Line car insurance said: “Whilst uninsured drivers cost every honest motorist £30 a year, the real cost is the devastation they cause to other road users’ lives. Uninsured drivers not only show disregard for the law but for other people too. To leave the scene of a crash where people are injured or worse, or try to wrangle their way out of it, shows their lack of personal responsibility. That is why harsher penalties are required: it is not a ‘harmless’ or ‘victimless’ crime”.

Julie Townsend, Campaigns Director at Brake, said: “It’s shocking that so many drivers have been injured in a crash with an uninsured driver, underlining just how huge this problem is. Research shows that people who take to the road uninsured are more likely to crash and cause tragic deaths and injuries, so it’s vital that we see action to remove these highly irresponsible and illegal drivers from our roads. We welcome the Government and Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s new initiative to step up enforcement on this issue, and we hope this will leave uninsured drivers with nowhere to hide.”

The research also revealed the likelihood of being involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, dramatically changes depending where you live in the country. In London, 15 per cent of drivers have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, closely followed by the West Midlands (14 per cent) and the North East (13 per cent).

Continuous Insurance Enforcement In the coming months Continuous Insurance Enforcement will be launched to tackle uninsured driving. Under the new powers it will be an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive, when uninsured.

  • Under the new system:

  • The DVLA will work in partnership with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to identify uninsured vehicles.
  • Motorists will receive a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning them that they will be fined unless they take action.
  • If the keeper fails to insure the vehicle they will be given a £100 fine.
  • If the vehicle remains uninsured - regardless of whether the fine is paid - it could then be seized and destroyed.

Facts about uninsured drivers***

  • 23,000 people are injured and 160 are killed every year by uninsured drivers
  • In 2009, 164,000 people were convicted for driving without insurance - that is one conviction every three minutes
  • The cost of uninsured motoring in the UK is estimated to be around £500 million. The MIB charges a levy on all motor insurance companies to help fund the cost of uninsured driving in the UK. That amounts to £30 for each law abiding driver in their annual motor premium.
  • Police report that 180,000 vehicles were seized in 2009, taking the total to more than 600,000 since laws were introduced in 2005
  • In 2009 194,000 people were convicted in Court for uninsured driving – that is one conviction every three minutes.

Case Study Dad, Ian Pearmain, Mum, Sue Pearmain and daughter Alice, then 13, from Orston, in Nottinghamshire, were driving home along a country road. Ian was driving, with Sue alongside and Alice in the back. An uninsured driver coming the other way failed to negotiate the bend and careered over to their side of the road. It hit their car on Sue’s side. Ian managed to get out of the car and went round to try to help Sue out. Alice was screaming in the back, but managed to drag herself out and sat at the side of the road clutching her stomach. Sue’s door wouldn’t open but with the help of passers-by they managed to wrench it free - but Sue’s legs were trapped. Three ambulances came and took them to hospital.

Sue kept drifting in and out of consciousness. “Whenever she was conscious she was more concerned about after me and Alice than her own pain and injuries,” says Ian. While Ian was in a hospital ward, recovering, staff came and told him he needed to see his wife immediately. He was wheeled in a wheelchair across the hospital and told that while Sue was still alive, her injuries were so severe that she didn’t have long left. Ian sat with her while she died. Sue was just 55. Ian then had to go to see Alice, who was in intensive care, surrounded by tubes, to tell her that her mum had died. Alice had to have an eight-hour operation to remove nearly all of her pancreas. She also had kidney and liver bruising and spent a further six months in and out of hospital. “I was worried I would lose them both,” says Ian. The driver who caused the crash was convicted of careless driving and driving uninsured. She received nine points on her licence and a £400 fine.

For more information on the features of Direct Line’s car insurance, visit or call 0845 246 3761.

Press Contact:
Simon Henrick
Direct Line
Direct: 0208 313 5965
Mobile: 07833166717


Notes to editors:
*Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,013 UK adults aged 18+ from 10th to 12th November 2010. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

**10 per cent of motorists have been involved in a collision with an uninsured driver. 10 per cent of 33million motorists nationwide (source: ONS) is 3,300,000 motorists.

***MIB Stay Insured Report

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides car, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting


Brake is an independent national road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the six deaths and 70 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake produces educational road safety literature, runs community training programmes and runs events including Road Safety Week (21-27 November 2011). Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum provides up-to-date fleet safety resources to fleet managers and runs a year-round programme of events. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.