Transport Committee calls for action on 'staged crashes' and young drivers
The insurance industry must help tackle the escalating problem of ‘staged crashes’ and the Government must do more to bring down the casualty rate among young drivers, according to Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee.
Speaking while launching a new report, ‘The cost of motor insurance’, Lousie Ellman, said: “Wider access to justice is to be welcomed but it has come at a significant cost, with far more personal injury claims being made than in the past.
"The police made plain to the committee that 'staged accidents' are on the increase and that, so far, we have been lucky there have been no fatalities resulting from such incidents.
“That luck may run out unless the insurance industry acts rapidly to help the police target this kind of insurance fraud."
Ms Ellman has also called on the Government to do more as a matter of urgency to bring down the ‘appalling’ casualty rate amongst young drivers, including making the driving test more rigorous.
She said: “If we are to curb the casualty rate, especially among young drivers, then it is essential that the driving test properly prepares drivers for motoring.
“We welcome the (road safety) minister’s commitment to make the driving test more rigorous but proposals for change have been around for years.
“What matters now is that the Government publishes for consultation the changes it wants to make, with a timetable for implementing them before the next election."
In addition, the committee recommends that the Government should:
- Set out a clear timetable for new data sharing arrangements between the DVLA and motor insurers.
- Undertake a promotional campaign, aimed at young drivers, to alert them to Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE - the requirement for the keeper of any registered vehicle to have valid motor insurance).
- Review the penalties for uninsured driving one year after CIE has been implemented.
- Fund research to review international experience in restraining the number of personal injury claims relating to motor insurance, with the aim of publishing a discussion paper during 2012 outlining possible options for change.
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To drive without insurance is intentional and premeditated, and as such should be treated as that of gun and knife crime, with immediate arrest. If the uninsured has killed another road user, he/she should be charged with murder and given the same prison term as gun or knife killings. And, a charge of ABH if the uninsured causes injury. This would then put pressure on insurance companies to reduce insurance premiums by, at the very least, the percentage we pay to cover the uninsured motorists.
All driving offences need to be treated more seriously, and death and injury to be treated as that of gun and knife crimes – As all are crimes against the person.
Every crash, whether there is injury or not, should be attended by the police and the person who caused the crash should be held to account and the offence recorded.
Learner drivers should be taught by qualified driving instructors only.
The driving test can be made as rigorous as you like, but it won't resolve the problem. Many people learning to drive will do all it takes to get a full driving licence, then take the attitude that 'you really only learn to drive properly' when you've passed the test. The Highway Code along with all the sensible things they've learned will go in the bottom drawer.
Two things are needed:
* compulsory post-test skills development and assessment for all new drivers within two years of gaining a full licence, this can be delivered by Approved Driving Instructors - it could be a combination of in-class work with groups of new drivers and practical on-road sessions with several new drivers in a car, taking turns to drive under the supervision of an ADI, failure to attend the programme would mean suspension or revocation of the driving licence;
* more dedicated roads policing officers supervising the behaviour of all road users.
This would encourage new drivers to keep practising and demonstrating the skills and knowledge they learned to pass the driving test. They would be encouraged to keep their skills and knowledge 'on the boil', as they would they would be aware that their driving skills would be re-visited within a couple of years.
The knowledge among all drivers that there is more overt and covert roads policing would go some way to encouraging all road users to use the highway in a more sensible manner.
With the current state of the nation's purse this isn't going to happen overnight, however, we could look to move forward in this direction in the medium term when public finances improve.
The penalty for driving without insurance needs to be significantly more than the cost of an insurance policy in the first place. A £200 fine against a premium of £800 or more is not discouraging enough. In addition there needs to be enough proper roads policing to make fear of detection a real deterant, not just relying on a database to do the job.
Personal injury claims are part of the wider issue of our growing litigous society. Scrapping 'no win no fee' arrangements might be the only way forward there. Might make insurance cheaper too helping to deal with the other issue.