UNINSURED drivers are being targeted by a police operation amid fears the number of people taking to the road without insurance could creep up due to hardship caused by the coronavirus.

Nearly one in five road traffic collisions in the UK are caused by uninsured and untraced drivers, while compensating victims of these crashes comes to more than £100 million a year.

Durham and Cleveland Police are joining a campaign, in partnership with the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) to remove uninsured drivers from the roads.

Operation Drive Insured starts today and runs until November 1 and will see officers out on the roads of Cleveland and Durham to stop uninsured drivers using the roads.

Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at MIB, said: “We’ve made great strides in getting more people to drive insured in recent years, but the sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up.

"Everyone suffers the consequences of uninsured driving. We’re fully committed to our partnership with the police so we can get as many people as possible to drive insured to make roads safer and fairer for everyone.”

Uninsured drivers kill 130 people a year, injure 26,000 more and are six times more likely to be involved in a fatal road traffic collision.

They are also often involved in a wide range of criminal activities, with hundreds of incidents each year of uninsured drivers found without a driving licence or using an untaxed or stolen vehicle, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The number of claims for compensation from victims of uninsured drivers have fallen 26 per cent since 2016.

However, with so many people suffering financial hardship due to Covid-19, there are growing concerns that this could result in more people breaking the law and driving without insurance.

Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Having no insurance puts road users in danger and it won’t be tolerated. Uninsured drivers are often committing not only road traffic offences, but often also secondary offences, such as drugs offences. Denying uninsured drivers the use of the roads can prevent this.

“Drivers found without insurance face having their vehicle seized on the spot, six penalty points on their licence, a £300 fine and possible prosecution through court.”

Drivers can check if their vehicle appears as insured on the MID for free at: www.askMID.com

Tips on finding more affordable car insurance can be found on the Association of British Insurers (ABI) website: www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/motor-insurance/how-tocut-the-cost-of-motor-insurance/

If a member of the public suspects a person is driving without insurance, they can report it to police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org