Any UK driver convicted of a motoring offence may be fined and have their licence endorsed with penalty points. Penalty points are issued on a scale of one to eleven – with eleven representing the most serious offences, such as causing death by careless, or dangerous driving, this offence will also remain on a drivers record for between four and eleven years, depending on the severity of the offence.
A new study of the latest figures released by the Department of Transport (DfT) has identified ‘hotspots’ for penalty points across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom with some interesting geographical trends.
Nationwide, 2.71 million, or 6.65% of the 40.7 million licensed drivers are carrying at least one penalty point, but the overall figure obscures some significant variations from one region to another.
Remarkably, the North of England, specifically three postcode districts within the county of West Yorkshire, was home to the most penalty point holders in the country.
In terms of towns and cities in this region, Halifax topped the list with 9.62% of licensed drivers carrying endorsements, it was closely pursued by Bradford with 9.46% of drivers, and then Huddersfield with 9.04% of its drivers.
By contrast if the DfT figures are to be believed, looking at the other end of the scale, Canterbury in Kent, South East England is home to the most law-abiding motorists in the country. Despite a student population of 40,000 and a reputation for gridlocked roads, just 3.72% of Cantabrian motorists carry penalty points.
Rob Walker, founder of Manchester-based new vehicle leasing firm Vantage Leasing, expressed concern about the DfT figures, saying, ‘What is also worrying is that there are more than 11,000 drivers with 12 or more points on their licence, with some of them still potentially on the road.’
Interestingly, Manchester ranked joint seventh; alongside Bradford, in the top ten postcode districts with drivers with twelve or more points on their licence. However, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) was keen to point out that not all the drivers of new and used cars carrying penalty points were necessarily still behind the wheel.
Under the current ‘penalty totting up’ rules, any driver who has their licence endorsed with twelve or more penalty points in a three-year period, is liable to disqualification for a period of at least six months, except in a small percentage of cases.
In ‘exceptional circumstances’, such as a motor trade professional who would suffer extreme financial hardship as a result of being unable to earn a living if a driving ban was imposed, a driver may, at the discretion of the court, be allowed to retain their licence.
Nevertheless, in the event of disqualification, a driver can expect their insurance policy to be adversely affected for the next five years, which is the period within which driving convictions must typically be declared to insurance provider to avoid invalidating the policy.
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As far as motorists on the cusp of disqualification, for example, carrying twelve penalty points on their licence, London, the most populous city in the country topped the list with 969 drivers, a proverbial country mile ahead of Birmingham, which had 393 motorists.
However, the cathedral city of Peterborough, whose population is growing rapidly, but still tiny by comparison to the top two in the list, came a rather incongruous third, with 265 drivers facing potential disqualification.
Penalty points can be added to a motorists licence for many different reasons, to ensure you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law, always follow the highway code, stay out of box junctions and bus lanes, and remember a speed limit is there as a guide, not a target.