The Law

UK law attempts to protect all road users by setting out strict rules before you are allowed to drive, and subsequently throughout your driving career. The Road Traffic Act 1988 comprehensively covers all areas of road use; you must be insured, taxed, and your vehicle must pass the ministry of transport test (MOT) each year before you are allowed to drive on a public road. When you buy your car insurance, there is a minimum level of cover you will receive. The RTA 1988 determines this minimum level which includes covering your liability for third party injury or damage.

There are certain exceptional circumstances, whereby you will not require insurance, such as if your car is stored in a garage and declared as legally off-road. However, for the vast majority of people, failing to buy car insurance will result in a driving conviction. At present, the maximum penalty for driving your car without insurance, whether you are involved in an accident or not, is 6-8 penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000.

Statistically, one in five new drivers will have an accident in their first year of driving. To help reduce this number, the Government have created a two year probationary period for any driver who passes their first driving test on or after 1 June 1997. This probationary period is designed to discourage new drivers from committing driving offences, which are the main cause of accidents on British roads. If you commit a certain number of driving offences within this period your driving licence will be annulled and you must resit your driving tests.

RTA 1988 is designed to protect the general public while driving. The complete act can be downloaded from the Office of Public Sector Information's website: opsi.gov.uk.


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