Motorists accrued 1.5MILLION points on driving licences in the first half of 2020 despite traffic plummeting during lockdown
- Drivers in England, Scotland and Wales racked up 1,465,232 new penalty points
- That’s around 700,000 fewer than during January to June a year earlier, though traffic levels were significantly lower in 2020 due to the lockdown
- Figures were revealed by the DVLA as part of a freedom of information request
- It follows a DfT report last month that said there had been a sharp increase in speeding in the first six months of the year
Drivers racked up a staggering volume of penalty points on their licences in the first half of the year despite the country spending the much of the period in the initial coronavirus lockdown, figures have revealed.
There were just under 1.5 million endorsement points put on licences in the first six months of 2020, the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency said in response to an investigation.
While the number of points added to licences is lower relative to the same period in previous years, the stats are a shock given the dramatic decline in traffic volumes during the first lockdown restrictions implemented from the end of March, falling by as much as 80 per cent.
Penalty point shock: Drivers received a staggering 1.5million endorsements in the first half of the year, despite traffic volumes being significantly lower
The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request submitted to the DVLA by vehicle leasing firm Select Car Leasing.
In total, drivers in England, Scotland and Wales racked up 1,465,232 new penalty points from 1 January to 30 June.
There were 4,446,398 in the whole of 2019, 4,429,494 in 2018 and 4,321,800 endorsements dished out in 2017.
When these full-year figures are halved, that means 2019 saw 2,223,199 new penalty points issued in the same period.
Meanwhile, 2018 saw 2,214,747 per half-year period and there were 2,160,900 for 2017.
James O’Malley, director of Select Car Leasing, said: ‘For three months from the end of March, in particular, there were vastly reduced rates of traffic on UK roads.
‘The AA revealed in June that traffic levels had slumped to between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of the pre-coronavirus levels in the weeks following the implementation of the initial lockdown restrictions.
‘Therefore there should have been a much lower level of endorsement points issued. But these figures tell a different story.
‘If you take a conservative figure of a 40 per cent reduction in traffic over the first six months of 2020 – taking into account the stay-at-home instruction from Westminster – that means the relative figure of new driving endorsement over that period of time would be a whopping 2,442,053.
‘That’s more than 200,000 higher than last year and shows the trend for the rising level of penalty points over the past four years has continued.’
Courts can fine you and ‘endorse’ your driving record with penalty points if you’re convicted of a motoring offence.
Endorsements must stay on your driving record for 4 or 11 years, depending on the offence.
Fixed Penalty Notices are sometimes used by the police as an alternative, for offences such as tailgating and illegal parking.
In total, drivers in England, Scotland and Wales racked up 1,465,232 new penalty points from 1 January to 30 June
Of the new DVLA stats, Mr O’Malley said: ‘It seems there are a number of contributing factors to this situation.
‘Yes, there were fewer vehicles on the road from March onwards, but those who were driving may well have taken this as licence to put their foot down.’
The penalty points data comes a matter of weeks after the Department for Transport’s speed compliance statistics for January to June found evidence of a sharp year-on-year increase in motorists breaking limits from mid-March, just as restrictions were put in place.
The new report published last month showed that 30mph zones were most often exceeded, rising to 63 per cent during the lockdown compared to 56 per cent over the same period in 2019.
Cases of speeding on 60mph single carriageway roads between April and June increased from 10 per cent in 2019 to 17 per cent.
Breaking the speed limit on motorways during the lockdown period also rose by one per cent to 53 per cent during the same three-month period.
As well as more cases of speeding, there was a spike in extreme cases of breaking limits.
Exceeding the speed limit by 10mph went up from 13 per cent to 15 per cent on motorways, one per cent to three per cent on single carriageway roads and six per cent to eight per cent on 30mph roads.
However, once the lockdown started to relax, breaking of speed limits returned to normal levels, the report said.
Figures released by the DfT last month showed that there speeding in 30mph zones rose by 7% during the first Covid-19 restrictions between April and June
As well as more cases of speeding, there was a spike in extreme cases of breaking limits. Exceeding the speed limit by 10mph went up from 13% to 15% on motorways, DfT said
Mr O’Malley said the higher-than-expected penalty points issued in the first six months of the year could also be attributed to the fact that police were ‘more likely to catch anyone committing an offence as they weren’t as thinly stretched’.
He added: ‘Regardless of the reasons, it’s worrying that the number of penalty points being issues is continuing to rise year on year and shows the challenges the police, and the courts, have in keeping our roads safe.’
In response to the FOI request, the DVLA said: ‘Our drivers’ database changes constantly as we receive driving licence applications, and other information, that updates individual drivers’ records.
‘Therefore, it is possible only to provide a snapshot of the state of the record at the time of any request.
‘It should be noted that there can be a delay between the notification of penalty points and of the sentence imposed by the court. These can update the driver record separately.’
Number of new penalty points issues per year (DVLA)
Jan – June 2020: 1,465,232
It added: ‘In England and Wales, the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Guidelines, produced by the Sentencing Council, provide a framework setting out how to establish the seriousness of each case, and the most appropriate way of dealing with it.
‘This helps the Magistrates’ Courts ensure that any penalty reflects the seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender.
‘In Scotland, Sentencers determine each case on its merits and give full consideration to the most appropriate way of dealing with it.
‘As in England and Wales, the penalty imposed reflects the seriousness of the offence, and the personal circumstances of the offender.’
Of all the motorists with penalty points on their licence, some 8,600 have accrued 12 or more of them, which should, by law, have resulted in disqualification.
However, motorists have for years been able to abuse a legal loophole to claim that a ban from driving would result in them losing their jobs and lead to ‘exceptional hardship’, with magistrates taking a lenient stance on those accumulating multiple penalties.
A new investigation has identified which parts of Britain have the most drivers with 12 or more points and should have already been banned.
Birmingham tops the table for having the most drivers on the road who should be disqualified.
Some 340 motorists in the area have 12 or more points on their record, with one driver in particular racking up a staggering 27 points.
Birmingham’s position at the top of the standings comes as no surprise, with the West Midlands recording an average of 106 speeding offences per day during the first lockdown earlier this year.
You can see the full results of the investigation in our report here.