The number of crashes involving foreign drivers is rising at an alarming level, according to a new report.
Data from the Motor Insurers Bureau shows that insurance claims involving foreign drivers have grown every year from 2001 to 2006.
Taking into account the cost of these crashes and potential congestion caused by the increasing number of foreign vehicles on British roads, the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that the cost to the economy will total £795 million in 2008.
The number of drivers from other EU countries who are now resident in the UK has risen from 534,000 in 2001 to 804,000 in 2007.
With 88% of that increase coming from 2004 onwards, the report’s authors attribute that increase to the accession of the 10 countries joining the EU that year and the further two that joined in 2007.
In addition, the number of foreign HGVs using British roads has increased by a third.
Now, one in seven HGVs on UK roads is from another EU country.
In parallel with this increase, the number of crashes involving foreign drivers or foreign-registered vehicles has also risen significantly.
“One particular problem we as an insurance industry, and therefore motorists, suffer is the ability to resolve a claim quickly when it involves a vehicle from outside the UK,” said John O’Roarke, managing director of insurer LV=, who commissioned the report.
“We believe the tightening of driving standards across the EU should now be a Government priority,” said Mr O’Roarke.
Drivers from Poland top the crash table, with 16.6% of all claims.
However, the countries showing the largest increases in claims are Lithuania, the Slovak Republic, Latvia and Estonia.
Steve Green, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ head of road policing, said: “We are working with the Department for Transport to ensure that our legislation and policing methods are evolving to make dealing with foreign national drivers easier.”
Drivers from the Republic of Ireland top the overall resident foreign driver table – they make up 25% of all foreign licence holders here.
Drivers from Germany follow in second with nearly 19%. Polish drivers come third, making up more than 18%.