26th February 2015
It has been nearly two years since former cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were sentenced to prison terms for perverting the course of justice after they lied about swapping speeding points.
But it seems the practice is flourishing across the UK.
New research from comparison site Confused.com claims that one in twenty, or 5% of UK drivers have taken the rap for someone else’s penalty points.
The data reveals nearly three million motorists currently have penalty points on their license, with 70,158 currently holding nine points – just three points off a potential ban.
And according to additional research, it is clear that some drivers are willing to go to extreme lengths to rid themselves of the penalties and dodge a potential ban.
One in 16 motorists, or 6%, have asked a friend or relative to take penalty points for them, with a shocking one in twenty motorists admitting to having actually paid someone to take their penalty points for them.
Of those who admit to falsely swapping penalty points, more than half, at 59%, have done so three times or more suggesting that many motorists are adopting a cavalier attitude to the practise.
The most common reason cited by 48% of motorists for asking someone to take their points is to keep a clean license, while a quarter, at 25% admit they asked someone else to take their points because they were facing a driving ban.
A third of motorists, at 34%, have received penalty points at some point for a motoring offence, with the majority of these points being handed out for speeding.
Worryingly, more than one in 10 motorists are unaware that it is illegal to take penalty for a friend or relative, with nearly three quarters of those who said they would take someone else’s points admitting that they would do so for their partner. They would also be willing to take points for their children, parents and siblings.
More than a third, at 37%, of those who have taken points for someone else said that they did so because the driver in question could have lost their job. However, it’s not always a selfless act, as a similar number of people, at 36%, said they took someone else’s points because they were paid to do so.
And it would seem that some professions are more inclined to swap points, with motorists in the hospitality industry topping the list, at 26%, followed by those who work in the property, at 17%, and research industries with 11%.
Furthermore swapping penalties seems to be more prevalent amongst younger motorists with 15% of drivers aged 18-24 admitting to asking friends/family to take penalty points, compared to 7% of 35-44 year olds.
With only just over half of those who have swapped points admitting to being caught, perhaps it is not surprising to learn that 15% of motorists believe that the penalty points system is not fit for purpose. As a result, 39% of motorists are calling for those who swap penalty points to face criminal prosecution.
Legally, motorists are obliged to inform their insurers that they have points on their license. However many are failing to do so, with more than one in six motorists admitting they have not informed their insurer they have points.
Gemma Stanbury, head of motor nsurance at Confused.com said: “The Police are aware that there are drivers on the roads who are illegally swapping points, and motorists should remember that the Police have direct access to DVLA data where they can look at anyone’s driving record to compare photos. It can be easy for the Police to match photos using DVLA information, and to ascertain whether the person taking points is the vehicle’s driver.
“Incurring multiple sets of penalty points can result in motoring fines, increased insurance premiums, and even disqualification from driving, so motorists should always drive safely and responsibly when on the roads.”