Level of uninsured driving in Ireland ‘problematic’ as motorists warned of hefty fines

New data has revealed that uninsured driving in Ireland is becoming “problematic”, according to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).

The number of uninsured private vehicles in Ireland has increased by more than 23,000 since 2018, with 174,177 uninsured vehicles recorded in 2021.

Uninsured vehicles now account for 7.8% of the total 2.23 million private vehicles in Ireland.

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All vehicles operating on Irish roads are legally required to hold valid motor insurance. Vehicles found without it can be seized on the spot by gardai, and the driver can be given an automatic court appearance, five penalty points and a substantial fine of up to €5,000.

Cars driving on Irish motorway
Cars driving on Irish motorway

The MIBI is a not-for-profit organisation established to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles.

Accidents involving uninsured drivers result in the MINI pursuing motorists for costs under their right to recovery for any party injured due to the accident.

In 2021, the average costs involved in such claims paid by the MIBI reached €78,736.

As these costs are then passed on to all the motor insurance companies operating in Ireland, insurance premiums have increased by around €30 – €35.

The MIBI has called for the Government to pass the Road Traffic and Road Bill, which will allow for the further rollout of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

This system and the underlying Motor Third Party Liability insurance database allow gardai to identify uninsured vehicles by scanning licence plates.

Although it is currently operating in a limited capacity, the system already identifies 128 uninsured vehicles per day on average, according to figures provided by gardai.

Chief Executive of the MIBI David Fitzgerald said the trend of more uninsured vehicles on the road “needs to be stopped”.

He said: “What this analysis shows is that the level of uninsured driving on Irish roads is becoming increasingly problematic. The number of uninsured vehicles is growing and that trend needs to be stopped. Uninsured driving is against the law and it also makes our roads more dangerous. Yet, one in every 13 private vehicles on our roads are currently being operated without insurance.

“If we are going to address this problem in the short term, the Government has to swiftly implement the Road Traffic and Roads Bill, which is currently before the Oireachtas. This legislation will further enhance and empower the ANPR system, which allows An Garda Síochána to identify uninsured vehicles simply by scanning their number plate. This system is proven to work, as illustrated by the 128 uninsured vehicles which are being identified by the Gardaí on a daily basis. This number is likely to grow significantly once the system is fully operational, but for that to happen the necessary legislation needs to be enacted.

“Simplifying the process of identifying uninsured drivers is the best tool we have to reduce the number of uninsured drivers. That is why it is so important this legislation is given the priority it deserves. The current levels of uninsured driving should be a concern for all those who are using Irish roads. We all want Irish roads to be as safe as possible. This Bill and its implications will advance that objective, which is why we need to see it signed into law at the earliest possible opportunity.”

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