Level of Uninsured Driving in Ireland 'Problematic'

Tuesday, 05 April 2022

Number of uninsured private vehicles surpasses 174k, up by 23k since 2018

The level of uninsured driving in Ireland is becoming “problematic”, according to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). The MIBI were speaking after conducting a new analysis which revealed that the number of uninsured private vehicles in Ireland reached 174,177 in 2021, a jump of more than 23,000 vehicles since 2018.

This represents 7.8% of the 2.23 million private vehicles in the overall fleet in the Republic of Ireland.
In comparison there were 150,910 uninsured private vehicles that were on the roads in 2018.

2018  2021
All private vehicles 2,106, 369 2,232,174
Uninsured private vehicles 150,910 174,177
Proportion of uninsured vehicles 7.2% 7.8%

To address the rising level of uninsured vehicles the MIBI is calling on the Government to swiftly pass the Road Traffic and Road Bill, which will empower the further rollout of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. This system and the underlying Motor Third Party Liability insurance database, allow An Garda Síochána to identify uninsured vehicles simply by scanning their licence plate.

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

Vehicles operating on Irish roads are legally required to hold valid motor insurance. The penalties for vehicles found without valid insurance include An Garda Síochána having the power to seize the vehicle on the spot, as well as other significant penalties such as an automatic court appearance, five penalty points and a substantial fine.

Additionally, in the case of any accidents involving uninsured drivers, the MIBI will pursue the driver for costs under their right to recovery. In 2021, the average costs involved in such claims paid by the MIBI, where a victim was injured, reached €78,736.

As these costs are passed on to all the motor insurance companies operating in the Republic of Ireland, this effectively adds approximately €30 – €35 to the value of all motor insurance premiums in this country.

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

Speaking about the level of uninsured driving, David Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the MIBI 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,” Mr. Fitzgerald concluded.