Is this the end of road for the uninsured vehicle

Ireland seems set to follow the example of the UK, which last week introduced legislation to make an offence to own an uninsured vehicle

THE DEPARTMENT of Transport is examining the possibility of introducing a requirement for continuous insurance for all vehicles, regardless of whether they are off the road.

Last week Britain introduced a law making it an offence to own an uninsured vehicle – even if kept in a garage or permanently parked up. Until now it had only been an offence to drive an uninsured vehicle.

Under Irish law, motorists are permitted to temporarily register a vehicle as being off the road and therefore not requiring insurance.

A spokesman for Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar says the department was looking at introducing a similar change.

If introduced, it would be the latest in a series of changes to the enforcement of uninsured driving, the centrepiece of which is a new automatic number plate reading system operated by An Garda.

The Road Traffic Act 2010 put the use of the system on a legislative footing and since June 1st its use has been extended to all vehicles, including fleet vehicles and those in the motor trade.

This system uses cameras installed in marked and unmarked Garda cars to read number plates of passing cars to identify those which are uninsured.

Niall Doyle, corporate affairs manager of the Irish Insurance Federation, says a file based on data from all 26 insurers in the Irish market was supplied daily to An Garda for use in the detection of uninsured vehicles.

Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, says the State should introduce a legal obligation for continuous motor insurance and tax.

John Casey, chief executive of the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, says continuous insurance was of “extreme interest” to his agency but he questioned whether the information held on driver databases was accurate enough for the system to be introduced immediately.

“The geneses of continuous insured enforcement in the UK is that the two databases; the DVLA, which is the state database and the motor insurers’ database. Both of these are extremely accurate and hold current information.

“We’d be very interested to go down the same route. Nonetheless, we are not quite at the stage where our databases would be at the level of accuracy where we could guarantee to the motoring public that the exact coterie of uninsured vehicles would be identified.

“Certainly the jury is out in terms of the level of accuracy that would be required for continuous insurance. At the moment we are looking closely at what has happened in Britain,” he adds.

Casey says approximately 100,000 vehicles in the State are uninsured, or 5 per cent of the total.

This excludes vehicles where the owner has notified the insurer that the vehicle is off the road.

Last year, the bureau paid out €59 million to 3,484 victims of a collision with an uninsured driver.

The bureau has a recovery policy where it seeks to recover the cost of the claim from an uninsured driver.

Last year it recovered €9.4 million, a total covering claims from a number of years.

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