Non-insured driver statistics hammer home the need to examine sector

while many will be driving home for Christmas in the coming days, they may not be aware that there is an increasing number of uninsured drivers on our roads.

It's a sobering thought and follows figures released this week revealing that the number of uninsured drivers have almost doubled in just five years.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland say 151,000 vehicles were uninsured on Irish roads in November; a figure which stood at 85,000 in 2011 but has now jumped by almost 78 per cent.

It now means that over seven per cent of all vehicles on Irish roads are uninsured, up from around five per cent in 2011.

The figures reflect a blatant disregard for the rights of law abiding drivers who continue to pay rapidly increasing premiums through gritted teeth.

The issue of exorbitant premiums dominated headlines throughout the year and motorists have expressed outrage at a 70 percent increase over the past three years, with a 38 percent hike in 2016 alone.

The issue was addressed at the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform holding hearings in September and October but premiums continue to rise despite constructive input from across the industry, including from young and low earning drivers who are being priced out of the market.

There's no definitive breakdown in the figures in terms of age profile but on social media the blame is being placed at the feet of young, disenfranchised drivers, frustrated at high insurance costs.

To use high premiums as justification to drive while uninsured is absurd but it is equally absurd to argue that escalating premiums are not an underlying factor. That a surge in uninsured driving happens as premiums soar can't be a coincidence.

We do live in different times. Times when reactions to rules and authority are more flippant than in the past and there's no reason to assume car insurance is any less likely to escape the kind of shoulder-shrugging attitudes found elsewhere in society.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland responded to the findings with dire warnings about the consequences for uninsured drivers and by ramming home the point that having motor insurance is an obligation not an option.

Fair enough, the law is the law, but it might also be an idea to look at the main motives behind these criminal drivers' actions. That, however, might not be an area insurers would wish to see probed too closely.

Uninsured drivers need to be caught and heavily penalised, both as punishment and as an example to others.

However, if the Government really wants to get to grips with this issue, the driving force behind the problem - sky-rocketing insurance premiums - has to be dealt with.

Many drivers feel like they are being robbed by insurance companies and until the Government steps in they see nothing wrong with robbing the state and their law abiding fellow motorists. That attitude has to be changed.

Hopefully these sobering new figures will kick-start some much needed debate. The current system clearly isn't working.

Wexford People

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