Supplementary memorandum by the Automobile
Association (YND 01A)
Several points arose during our oral evidence,
and in conversation with others who were present, which I feel
require me to provide some clarification to the Committee.
The Committee devoted much time to exploring
the suggestion of there being two million people driving in this
country while not properly licensed. This point stems from a very
broadly worded sentence in the AA written evidence"This
as yet unpublished study produced worrying results, suggesting
that somewhere up to as many as two million drivers may possibly
not have licences".
This scoping study of unlicensed drivers was
commissioned jointly by the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research
and the Association of British Insurers. The AA's estimate of
two million stems from the application of a multiplier of six
to the number of drivers who are subject to court proceedings
for driving licence offences. The six times multiplier used is
reached by making comparisons with overseas and UK studies, and
particularly the relationship between drivers without insurance
and those who are prosecuted for insurance offences.
Home Office data shows that some 377,000 people
are subject to such court proceedings for unlicensed driving offences.
However, we have since learned that some 160,000 of these proceedings
are either dismissed or withdrawn, usually because drivers required
to produce documents within seven days do not do so, therefore
having proceedings commenced against them which are later dismissed
or withdrawn when correct documents are produced. It is also the
case that a proportion of convictions for driving licence offences
relate to drivers who have driving licences, but for one reason
or another fail to produce them and are subsequently found guilty
of this offence.
¥These complications mean that our reference
to two million uninsured drivers is a considerable over estimate.
A realistic figure would be closer to 800,000, a figure which
includes an element to take account of the fact that the convictions
data used does not include those committed in Scotland and Northern
Ireland. Additionally, among the limited sample of the scoping
study, there is evidence of unlicensed drivers finding ways of
circumventing the licence production system.
The 800,000 figure can be put into perspective
as being equivalent to the number of drivers passing their driving
tests in each of the years leading up to the introduction of the
In discussing unlicensed drivers, we have included
three distinct groups of people: those who drive without licences;
those who are disqualified from driving; and those who drive in
breach of their provisional licence entitlement. The final group
is particularly important.
On behalf of the AA I must apologise for misleading
the Committee on this issue.
The Committee asked for information on average
fines for driving without insurance, and I feel that the following
table of data extracted from Offences relating to motor vehiclesEngland
and Wales, 1997Supplementary tables, published by the
Home Office is the best available. This data refers to all vehicle
|Up to £10||2,470
|Over £10 up to £50||22,255
|Over £50 up to £100||37,370
|Over £100 up to £200||60,961
|Over £200 up to £400||42,474
|Over £400 up to £800||22,516
The average fine is £210, while the AA Insurance Index
gives the realistic average cost of a comprehensive insurance
policy as £275.
The AA believes that a learner driver should be allowed to
drive on a motorway when accompanied by a professional instructor.
However, we do not believe that this should be compulsory, either
as part of the test or as part of tuition. Our support for this
is much more because experience as a learner could make new drivers
feel more comfortable on motorways than because we feel it will
The AA sees any future hazard perception testing as an additional
integral part of a computer based theoretical test, not as a third
part of the driving test. Accordingly any cost increase should
be marginal. We are concerned that any change to either the theoretical
or practical test should be monitored for its effect on road safety,
and that special care should be taken to ensure that the design
of the test, and the mechanism for carrying it out does not pose
particular difficulties to any group of potential drivers.
H T Morris
Manager Group Public Policy
18 June 1999