There has been a huge fall in the number of uninsured drivers caught on Britain’s roads, according to new government data.

Figures from the DVLA show a 33% reduction in the number of drivers caught without insurance by police in 2018. A total of 79,713 offenders were caught by officers in 2018, compared to 118,698 in 2017, which was the worst year since 2012. The data was revealed following a freedom of information request by the RAC and shows that 2018 represented a seven-year low in offences.

The offence of using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks carries six to eight penalty points and a fine of between £100 and £1,000. Drivers can also see their vehicles seized by police.

Since the introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement in 2011, drivers without valid insurance have been issued with automatic warnings and subsequent fixed penalty notices by post as well as police having the power to charge them at the roadside.

While figures for fines under continuous enforcement are calculated separately from offences caught by police officers, they also show a significant drop of 16 per cent – from 247,589 in 2017 to 208,619 in 2018.

Mark Godfrey, the RAC’s insurance director, said that the more joined-up enforcement was at least in part responsible for the reduction in offences.

The DVLA data revealed the age make-up of offenders, including those too young to even hold a licence.

It showed a near halving of the number of under-17s charged with driving without insurance – from 1,644 in 2017 to 872 in 2018. The youngest offenders in 2018 were two 11-year-olds, but the youngest on record since 2012 was a 10-year-old who was caught in 2016.

The figures also revealed that the oldest offender in 2018 was a 96-year-old – the oldest person caught for the offence since 2012.

Mark Godfrey commented: “It can only be good news that the number of people driving without insurance has dropped significantly in the last year. This should help to keep premiums down for every driver and we hope this continues in the years ahead.

“From 2012 to 2015 there was a steady downward trend in the number of ‘driving without insurance’ offences, but there was then an increase in 2016 followed by a six-year high in 2017 which appears to be directly linked to the increase in the price of insurance at that time.

“The introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement in 2011 more than likely explains the reduction seen in the following four years, but we believe the increases in 2016 and 2017 are related to a rise in the average cost of insurance.

“The sharp drop in driving without insurance offences seen in 2018 is harder to explain as while the average insurance premiums began to fall the reduction in price does not seem great enough to cause such a significant change in behaviour.

“Even though the figures show an improvement in compliance the law demands that every driver has insurance. This is to protect everyone who uses the road: drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Those who drive without insurance are not only breaking the law, they are also selfi