It’s not just Citroen Picasso drivers that are actively trying to kill you: a truly terrifying 2.19 million UK cars aren’t taxed and therefore aren’t road legal – and it also means the sods can sail past speed cameras without getting done, because their cars aren’t on the system. But that’s a minor niggle.
There are three mechanisms designed to keep car owners safe: tax, MOT and insurance. I’m including tax in there because it essentially enforces the other two: you can’t get a tax disc if you don’t have a current MOT and Certificate of Motor Insurance. So if you can’t afford, can’t get or can’t be bothered with insurance, or you can’t afford to fix your car when the MOT man says your steering’s shot and your brakes are broken, you’ll hardly be hurrying to the Post Office to get a tax disc.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that 80% of untaxed cars are uninsured and one in six is also likely to be unroadworthy. And by unroadworthy I mean potentially lethal: MOTs are an utter pain in the arse, a kind of Christmas for mechanics, but they do tend to highlight niggling little problems such as your car being a bloody death trap and a danger to other road users. Untaxed drivers are more likely to be involved in hit-and-run accidents – “ooh! I’ve just pranged someone! I think I’ll hang around and get done for driving an illegal car too!” – and it that wasn’t worrying enough, the government suggests that untaxed motorists are 10 times more likely to be completely and utterly pissed. Drunks in death-traps! Hurrah!
There is some good news, though. Police are cracking down on the problem and in the last 12 months, they’ve seized 50,000 uninsured cars and crushed nearly half of them. Provided nobody else decides not to pay their car tax, that means we’ll have confiscated every single illegal car in just 44 years’ time.