Up to 73,000 novice disqualified could have illegally returned to driving over the past 10 years says a recently published report. Since the New Drivers Act was introduced in 1997, 160,000 novice drivers have been banned - and eight out of ten of these are aged under 24. This Act automatically cancels the licences of drivers after they have gained 6 or more penalty points on their licence within the first two year after passing their driving test. The strange thing is that government figures show that of these drivers, only about 50% of them have subsequently retaken and passed their driving test.
The fear is that many of these drivers have quietly returned to driving illegally without a licence. And experience shows that those who drive without a licence are also highly likely to be driving without road tax or car insurance. And it is precisely this category of drivers who have the accident rates. They have more, and more serious accidents, than any other drivers.
Who ends up paying for these accidents? Law abiding drivers! Two million drivers are thought to be on our roads without insurance. Within the average monthly premium, £30 is costed in to pay out for accidents involving uninsured drivers. So make no mistake, law abiding drivers pay for the destruction caused by uninsured drivers.
These findings have so distressed Government Ministers that they have commissioned a review of how the law is operating. It is almost certain that changes will be made to the law to plug the loophole and introduce new ideas to encourage novice drivers to drive safely and within the law.
In 2006 the average fine for driving without a licence was £71 but bearing in mind that the cost of taking the driving test in an evening or at the weekend, is £67, the fines are remarkably low. Add to this that many of these drivers are avoiding road tax and car insurance.
Surely, fines and detection rates must be increased. Disqualified drivers cannot be identified by speed cameras and if they are driving normally it is unlikely that they will attract the attention of traffic police.
The Driving Standards Agency agrees that the law is not working as intended. When it was introduced, the New Drivers Act was designed to promote safe and responsible novice drivers whist they gain experience on the road.
The Department for Transport acknowledge this saying “The Government take the safety issues linked to novice drivers very seriously. We have already announced a fundamental overhaul of the existing testing and training system. There is absolutely no excuse for people driving without a valid licence. "
We agree but words on paper are fine only if backed up with higher detection rates and far higher fines and sentences for those caught transgressing. We suspect that the Government will implement changes to the law, but we have little confidence that the necessary support from the police and judiciary will follow. So please do not expect any reductions in your car insurance premiums!
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