Gone are the days when a hardly-used car could be left rusting on the drive without leaching money out of your pocket. The rules surrounding car insurance have changed, and as a result an astonishing £12 million of fines have been generated by cars which never moved.
So what's going on, and why have the rules changed?
£12 million finesThe figure, reported by the Daily Mail, is for those people who have a car they never drive. In the past as long as it never left the drive or the garage you could avoid paying insurance on it. However, the rules changed last June. Now you either have to insure the car or you have to declare it as being off the road.
So far, according to the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), over 120,000 people have failed to do either and been fined £100 each.
The rulesThe new rules are known as 'continuous insurance enforcement' regulations. The idea is that no car will ever have a gap in insurance that isn't explained by an off-the-road declaration. It means that any car which has a gap on its records is assumed to be uninsured, which makes it much easier to find and fine uninsured vehicles.
If you get a letter, the advice is to pay up and get insured or declare the car off-road by completing a SORN declaration. This should be done as soon as you get the letter, although the MIB says there is a sufficient delay between the letter and the fine for those who are in hospital or on holiday to return and deal with the letter. As long as you act at this point, your car will be legal and you will escape a fine.
CrackdownIt's part of a wider crackdown on uninsured driving. Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said this was essential because uninsured driving is a menace on the roads. He explained: "An estimated 1.4 million drivers are flouting the law by driving without insurance. This is a serious offence and results in accidents that cause about 160 deaths each year and more than 23,000 people are injured by uninsured drivers. It also adds around £30 per year to honest drivers' motor insurance policies."
Ashton West, Chief Executive at MIB said, "We cannot stand by and let uninsured driving continue, otherwise the honest motorist will keep paying the bills for the injury and damage caused to people and property. We are determined to bring UK levels more in line with the rest of Western Europe."