The government is planning a new crackdown on unlawful motorists this week by making it an offence to keep an uninsured car off the road.
The United Kingdom faces one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in Europe, but the police are powerless to charge reckless car owners unless they actually catch them behind the steering wheel on a public road.
The government hopes the new regulations – which include the threat of fines up to £5,000 and the seizure of the vehicle – will dissuade people from driving without insurance.
The new system will see the DVLA and the insurance companies use their respective databases to establish which motorists may be using their cars without cover. People with a valid Statutory Off-Road Notice which declares the car is untaxed and unused will continue to be exempt.
Those identified will be sent a letter warning that they face an immediate fine of £100 if they fail to insure the vehicle within a set time.
Critics of the proposals have pointed out that the new rules are likely to snare as many innocent drivers as it does genuine insurance dodgers as the latter aren't likely to appear on the DVLA's records in the first place. The established SORN system is also susceptible to abuse.
Nevertheless, with as many as a million motorists currently using an uninsured car on British roads, it would appear that even a flawed step in the right direction is preferable to no progress at all.