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Drivers swap penalty points to keep licence clean

Press release: 31/08/2011

  • One in twenty drivers would be willing to take on penalty points for a friend or relative
  • Over a million drivers not aware 'swapping' points is against the law[1]
  • A suspected 300,000 drivers have accepted penalty points on behalf of someone else in the past decade[2]
  • The roll-out of police video speed guns will make point swapping harder

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[3]. 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 are 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[4].

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."


Notes

ICM interviewed a sample of 2031 British adults aged 18+ between 19 - 21 August 2011. Results were weighted to be nationally representative. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is available at www.icmresearch.co.uk

LV= employs over 4,500 people and serves over four million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. www.LV.com.


  1. According to ICM research 4% of UK drivers believe that taking on penalty points for another driver is not against the law. ICM estimates that there are 36,677,000 drivers in the UK. 4%x 36,677,000 = 1,467,080.

  2. According to ICM research among UK drivers, 1% of drivers have taken on someone else's penalty points since 2001. This is based on a survey of 2031 British drivers, which has been weighted to be nationally representative. ICM estimates that there are 36,677,000 drivers in the UK. 1% x 36,677,000 = 366,770.

  3. According to a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA from LV=, as of 9 July 2011 - 3,823,544 licence holders have points on their licence. According to ICM research among UK licence holders who have penalty points, 82% of these were given points for speeding.

  4. While 90% of speed cameras currently in existence do not photograph the driver behind the wheel, the 'Truvelo' speed camera, designed to take photographs of the front of the vehicle as well as the driver, are becoming increasingly more common place, with counties such as Northamptonshire predominately using them, according to www.speedcamerasuk.com