London, UK (PRWeb UK) March 10, 2010
An increasing number of drivers are risking prosecution by illegally 'swapping' their penalty points for offences such as speeding, with their partner, a friend or family member in a bid to keep their driving licence clean.
A new report by car insurance provider Direct Line reveals that 660,000 motorists (2 per cent)* have persuaded their nearest and dearest to falsely take responsibility for their penalty points in order to avoid having the points added to their own licence.
The number of people admitting to 'point swapping' has risen by a third over the past three years, from 495,000 motorists (1.5 per cent) in 2007.
However, many of these motorists have chanced falling foul of the law by swapping points in order to maintain a completely clean and points-free licence, rather than resorting to points swapping when they already have a number of penalty points and are at risk of losing their licence. Over half (61 per cent) of the motorists who have engaged in points swapping - 388,080 - still have a points-free driving licence, which equates to 1.2 per cent of the motoring population.
According to Direct Line's internal data, 16 per cent of drivers have points on their licence**. This research therefore suggests that one in eight of those drivers with points on their licence (2 per cent of all motorists) have actually taken the points on behalf of another driver.
Andy Goldby, Director of Motor Underwriting at Direct Line, commented: "Motorists are increasingly risking perverting the course of justice in order to maintain a clean licence, as well as to avoid a driving ban. However, trying to escape convictions by swapping points with another person is illegal and can lead to prosecution. Quite simply, it is not worth the risk."
Just one in seven motorists (14 per cent) who have swapped points already had eight or more points on their licence at the time of the most recent conviction, meaning they potentially dodged a driving ban by swapping their points with a friend in a bid to save their driving licence.
Londoners are the most prolific points swappers, with seven per cent of motorists in the capital owning up to swapping penalty points with their partner, friends or family members.
The younger generation are also more likely to risk breaking the law in order to prevent points being added to their licence, with 4 per cent of 18-35 year olds admitting to persuading their mates to take the rap for their penalty points.
Andy Goldby added: "This research shows the lengths that some drivers will go to in order to keep their driving licence clean, despite committing driving offences such as breaking the speed limit. The way to avoid a driving ban in the first place is simple - drive responsibly."
Notes to editors
*Direct Line research commissioned with Opinium Research in an online poll of 2,009 UK adults from 26th to 28th January 2010. Of these 1,441 were motorists.
** Direct Line internal data, 2009. 16% of 33m British drivers (Source: ONS) = 5,280,000 have penalty points.
2% of all UK motorists = 660,000 have swapped penalty points.
660,000 motorists is equivalent to 12.5% (one in eight) of 5,280,000 who have taken penalty points for someone else.
Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.
Direct Line is part of RBS Insurance, the second largest general insurer in the UK and is wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3564 or visiting http://www.directline.com
Direct Line Insurance plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered office: 3 Edridge Road, Croydon, Surrey CR9 1AG. Registered in England and Wales no. 01810801. The Financial Services Authority's Register can be accessed through http://www.fsa.gov.uk.