Drivers swap penalty points to keep licence clean

One in twenty (6%) UK drivers would be willing to take the rap for someone else’s penalty points, according to new research from LV= car insurance.

Among all UK licence holders 3,823,544 currently hold penalty points with the vast majority (82%) receiving points for speeding[2]. Motorists who are caught speeding receive three to 12 points per conviction and anyone who has twelve points on their licence is usually banned from driving.

According to new research, one in twenty drivers say they would be willing to lie and take on penalty points for a friend or relative. Two thirds (66%) of these say they would do it to ensure their friend was not disqualified from driving and over half (59%) say they would do it to protect their friend’s livelihood as they would lose their job if their licence was taken away. A fifth (21%) say they would be prepared to take on points for a friend because despite incurring penalty points, their friend is a safe driver.

Of those who admitted taking on someone else’s penalty points, 6% said they were paid to do it. Since 2001, approximately 300,000 drivers have lied and said they were driving their friend or partner’s car when they were caught speeding and taken on the penalty points incurred by the offence.

The research shows that drivers who are prepared to take on someone else’s penalty points feel that it is not a serious motoring crime. Almost one in twenty (4%) believe that it is not against the law and one in eight (12%) drivers feel that receiving points for speeding is too harsh a punishment for the crime.

Lying to the police and taking on penalty points for another driver is against the law and it will become more difficult to get away with as police forces across the UK trial and roll-out a new video speed gun. These new speed cameras record a vehicle’s speed and capture the driver on film, which can then be matched against driving licence photos held by the DVLA. There are already a number of cameras in the UK that photograph the front of the vehicle as well as the driver and these are also becoming more commonplace[3].

When surveyed, one in three (33%) drivers said they were aware that police forces across Britain are planning to test a new speed gun that will capture footage of the driver. Over two thirds (67%) of these said it would not change their behaviour but 17% said it would make them less likely to swap penalty points.

The findings come as a high profile case of alleged penalty point swapping is in the media spotlight and the subject of a police investigation into allegations of perverting the course of justice.

John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: “Penalty points are designed to deter drivers from repeatedly breaking the law and to penalise those who do. Police know that drivers take on points and have direct access to the DVLA data where they can look at anyone’s driving record to compare photos. Swapping points is more serious than people realise and it will be much harder for them to get away with it once the new speed cameras are rolled out.”

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