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Nearly 4 Million drivers would swap penalty points

A staggering 3.7 million* motorists – 12% of the drivers on UK roads - would ask a relative or friend to take speed camera penalty points for them if they were facing a driving ban, a new nationwide poll by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Swinton has revealed.

The poll, commissioned by leading high street insurance broker Swinton, also revealed that 13% of drivers would take points from a partner or relative to prevent them from being banned from driving.

Drivers were asked the questions based on the assumption that they or their friends already had six points and were photographed by a speed camera positioned behind the vehicle so that the identity of the driver could not be confirmed.

The figure for potential ‘penalty point swapping’ rises to 20% among the under-24s. This falls to just 4% of over-55s who would consider asking someone to take their points and 8% of over-55s stating they would consider taking them on behalf of a friend or relative.

However, the same poll revealed high levels of honesty among UK motorists towards another illegal act, with 93% of drivers saying they would not drive away from a minor accident such as clipping someone’s bumper while reversing.

These contrasting figures reflect the attitude of some UK drivers that the trading of penalty points is a less serious offence than other motoring transgressions.

Such figures indicate that some drivers view speed cameras as being positioned to inflict financial penalties, rather than actually deter motorists from speeding and breaking the law.

The Swinton poll goes some way to confirming what up to now has been an urban myth that a black market could be emerging in the trading of speed camera penalty points.

Nick Bowyer from Swinton said: “This is potentially a serious problem which needs to be addressed. From a motor insurance point of view, it means that car insurance brokers like Swinton could be insuring some drivers who otherwise might have been banned from getting behind the wheel altogether. There is only so much checking the insurance brokers can do.

“Until a few years ago many insurance brokers would increase premiums for drivers with as few as 3 penalty points. Today however, we look at each case individually and do not automatically increase insurance premiums when our customers exceed 6 points acquired through speed camera traps.”

There are distinct regional attitudes to such an illegal move. East Midlands (6%), Eastern England (8%) and the North East (8%) are the regions less likely to ask for their points to be swapped. The biggest potential cheats are in the South West where 20% would ask someone to take their points, and in the South East where 18% of drivers admitted they would consider taking points from someone else.

The survey also found that men at 13% were slightly more likely to ask someone to take their points than women.

Speeding motorists face a minimum of 3 points if caught by cameras, with 12 points attracting an automatic ban in many cases.

Earlier this year a YOUGOV survey found that nearly five and a half million UK drivers have points on their license, 8% issued by police and the rest from speed cameras. It also calculated that 750,000 drivers currently have six points, with 160,000 having amassed nine.

(*Figures from Ipsos MORI Financial Services omnibus show that there are currently 31m insured adults aged over 16 in England, Scotland and Wales )

(*DVLA records up to October 2006, current photocard license holders held by people aged 16-99 years old = 24,713,540. A further 17 million people hold paper driving licences).

About Swinton
  • With 442 branches nationwide Swinton is the largest high street insurance broker.
  • Unlike many other companies in the financial services industry, Swinton is committed to keeping its branches open for business, and part of the community.
  • Swinton provides a one-stop-shop for the insurance and related needs of its clients, offering home, car, caravan, business, holiday, motorbike and even classic car insurance
  • With a dedicated team of advisors on hand at every branch to search a panel of insurers to offer quality cover at competitive rates

About the Author: Swinton Colonnade is the biggest insurance broker on the high street, with branches covering 90% of the UK. Editor’s Notes: Ipsos MORI questioned 1,151 drivers across the UK on behalf of insurance brokers Swinton. The interviews were carried out face-to-face between the 2nd and 8th November 2006.

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