Driverfail: Motorists issued with 28 million fixed penalty notices

  • Over the course of 10 years, 5.6 million fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued for parking offences alone
  • Speeding is the most common FPN offence
  • Belt-up drivers: over two million motorists fined for not wearing a seat belt
  • Drivers in Suffolk, South Wales and Merseyside are the worst offenders

New analysis1 from Direct Line Car Insurance reveals drivers in England and Wales clocked up 28 million fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in a 10 year period for motoring offences. Many of these penalties were easily avoidable; 2,030,100 motorists received a fine for the most basic of driver fails, not wearing a seatbelt.

Speeding was found to be the most common FPN offence. Millions of drivers failed to match their speedo to the limit for the road as over 15 million FPNs were issued for speeding. The analysis also points to a lack of awareness on the road. Over 2 million (2,010,600) motorists were issued with fines for neglect of traffic signs and directions or pedestrian rights, including failing to give way, running a red light or driving elsewhere than on the road.

Analysts for the company reviewed a decade’s worth of data and revealed more than five million (5,640,100) FPNs were handed out for selfish driver behaviours such as obstruction and parking offences. Some 852,488 drivers received a fine because they were not up to date on their paper work. This includes vehicle registration and excise licence offences (i.e. not having a visible registration mark) as well as driving without valid insurance or while disqualified.

Table One: top 10 reasons why motorists receive fixed penalty notices (FPN) from 2002 - 2012

Rank Offence type Amount
1 Speed limit offences 15,299,039
2 Obstruction, waiting and parking offences 5,640,089
3 Seat belt offences 2,030,079
4 Neglect of traffic signs and directions and of pedestrian rights 2,010,625
5 Use of handheld mobile phone while driving* 1,067,411
6 Licence, insurance and record-keeping offences** 852,488
7 Vehicle test and condition offences 464,492
8 Lighting and noise offences 212,736
9 Careless driving offences (excl. use of handheld mobile phone while driving) 128,808
10 Other offences*** 67,036

Source: Direct Line Analysis of Home Office Data, 2015
* Use of a handheld mobile phone while driving was introduced as a specific offence from Dec 2003
** The offence of having no insurance was added to the road traffic fixed penalty offence system from June 2003
*** Includes load offences

Gus Park, director of motor at Direct Line commented: “Millions of motorists are risking fines and penalty points for failing to obey the basic rules of the road, such as wearing a seat belt. The analysis highlights that millions of drivers are being penalised each year for flouting the most obvious of traffic laws, such as speeding. Careless drivers put lives at risk and are also a major source of concern and irritation for those motorists that abide by the law.”

The police can issue a ‘fixed penalty notice’ for traffic offences resulting in the driver being fined and potentially getting penalty points on their licence. In some cases, motorists may be disqualified from driving if they build up 12 points within three years2.

Regional findings:

On a regional basis, drivers in Suffolk, South Wales and Merseyside were the worst offenders overall (362, 351 and 341 per 1,000 of the population respectively).

Table Two: Worst offending police force areas per 1,000 of the population

Rank Police Force Sum of total FPNs per 1000 of the population
1 Suffolk
2 South Wales
3 Merseyside
4 Gwent
5 Lincolnshire
6 North Wales
7 Cumbria
8 Warwickshire
9 Dorset
10 Avon and Somerset

Source: Direct Line Analysis of Home Office Data, 2015

Drivers in North Wales were most likely to be caught not wearing a seatbelt (48 per 1,000 of the population) while drivers in Merseyside were most often caught using their mobile phone whilst driving (24 FPNs issued per 1,000 of the population). Those in Hertfordshire were most often caught driving uninsured (5 per 1,000 of the population) but drivers in Cumbria were the worst speeders with 255 per 1,000 of the population being issued a FPN for speeding offences.

Keeping your car in a safe condition is one of the basic rules of the road yet 464,492 motorists received an FPN for having a car that was deemed unsafe. This includes windows being unclear and obstructed or cars without windscreen wipers. Motorists in North Yorkshire were most guilty of this (5 FPNs issued per 1,000 of the population) while those in Northamptonshire were the most conscientious (only 1 FPN was issued per 1,000 of the population).

For further information, please contact:

Notes to editors:

  1. Analysis of Home Office Data (2002 – 2012) from Direct Line Car Insurance. This data is the most recent available and was published in April 2014 and last checked 19th November 2015
  2. As defined by

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 motor, 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 0345 300 7838 or visiting

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