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3/9/2006
UK: 5.4 Million Drivers Have Driving License Points
The UK insurance industry makes millions from speed cameras, while the Transport Minister uses a detector to avoid his own ticket cameras.

Sample UK license
Nearly five and a half million UK drivers have demerit points on their license according to a poll released today. If accurate, the British insurance industry would collect an estimated £375 million (US $650 million) from the increased insurance premiums charged to those with traffic tickets. Motorists pay this amount on top of the £135 million (US $230 million) they pay to government agencies for the tickets themselves. Direct Line commissioned the YouGov survey of 2430 adults.

Just eight percent of license points came from tickets issued by a police officer. The rest coming from automated speed cameras. Sixteen percent or 5.4 million motorists reported receiving at least one ticket. Another 750,000 drivers had six points and 160,000 had nine points putting them on the verge of losing their license.

A majority of motorists, 61 percent, believe the speed cameras are simply "revenue raisers." Some safety advocates go further and say the points system is making driving more dangerous.

"Drivers frequently write to me complaining about the dangers of driving with 9 license points," said Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed. "They tell me that every van at the road side becomes a threat and the speedometer becomes an obsession. They live in dread of missing a speed limit sign. This means that they feel forced to concentrate on speed limit compliance at the expense of concentrating on the road ahead. It simply isn't safe."

Even the minister responsible for the speed camera network, Stephen Ladyman, takes measures to avoid them. He admitted to using a GPS-based speed camera detector in an exchange with the Conservative's shadow transport minister, Owen Paterson, in parliament yesterday. Patterson asked, "Could you clarify that those devices, which just say where these cameras are positioned, will continue to be allowed."

"Such devices will continue to be legal and I have got one myself," Ladyman replied. The minister admitted last year that, at one point, he had nine points on his license.



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