The pandemic has shown that we can accept difficult restrictions when necessary though our capacity - not our obligation - to accept them over an extended period is an open question. The majority of us play by the rules because the common purpose those rules underline. Unfortunately there is a lockdown-defying minority indifferent to that common purpose.
Figures from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) show a minority are also indifferent to their obligation to have insurance to drive on public roads. MIBU say there are more than 164,000 uninsured private vehicles in the Republic. This equates with 7.58% of private vehicles and suggests that one in every 13 private vehicles used on out is uninsured.
MIBI, a not for profit organisation established to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured or unidentified vehicles, points out that penalties are already severe. Any uninsured vehicle discovered can be immediately seized by gardaí. The driver faces severe penalties including a substantial fine. The MIBI will pursue uninsured drivers for costs and these, on average, €50,000.
These are stiff sanctions and should, in the normal course of events, be enough to dissuade the one-in-13 driver who regularly break the law. That they do not suggest that the problem may be our usual cultural weakness.
We are very good at making rules to enhance and protect society but less than good at enforcing them. There are many prickly issues around insurance and compensation but this seems one of the more easily resolved ones. The provision of resources to make policing more of a deterrent than a notion would be a good first step.