Penalty points warning: Top 20 driving offences revealed by exclusive data

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What are penalty points?
What are driving offences?
Most common
Top 20
Driving uninsured

Exclusive data sourced by Cuvva has revealed the top 20 reasons British drivers are being slapped with penalty points.

A Freedom of Information request by Cuvva found a drop in the number of penalty points being issued for many offences, which is good news for drivers.

But some offences in particular are on the rise - with thousands of drivers paying the price for putting themselves and others at risk.

We’ve broken down the data from January to March 2023 (the most up-to-date period we can analyse), including a special look at uninsured drivers.

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What are penalty points?

Penalty points (also known as endorsements) are added to your driving licence record if you are found to have committed a driving offence.

They can make your car insurance more expensive, and also reduce the number of car insurance options available to you.

They stay on your record for several years (the exact numbers vary depending on the offence). You are disqualified from driving if you get 12 points within a 3 year period (or 6 points if you’re a new driver). It’s serious stuff.

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What are driving offences?

There are a huge number of rules and regulations you agree to respect when you pass your driving test and are given a full licence.

There are way too many to list out in full here (although we do have this useful guide on recent changes to the Highway Code) and it’s up to you to know the rules - ignorance is no excuse.

When it comes to penalty points, however, it’s worth knowing that each offence is given a special code. This code is used by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the government to categorise and track driving offences easier.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on the 20 driving offences ranked by the number of drivers who received penalty points for breaking them.

Most common driving offences in Britain

We’ll have a full breakdown of the top 20 offences later on - but for now, let’s focus on some of the biggest issues.

Speeding is the most common offence on British roads, with 3 of the top 10 relating to it. In total, across the SP30 (public roads), SP50 (motorways) and SP10 (goods vehicles) offences, almost 200,000 drivers were issued penalty points for speeding. Even though the number has gone down compared to the same period last year, this is still a worrying stat. According to the government’s THINK! anti-speeding campaign, speeding contributes to 1 in 4 fatal road collisions.

Driving uninsured is the most common offence after speeding. Despite it being a legal requirement, the data shows a staggering 10,286 drivers hit the road without cover (IN10). This is totally avoidable when you can get insured in minutes on anyone’s car with short-term insurance.

And one driving offence is substantially on the rise: using a mobile phone at the wheel (CU80). In total, 7,136 drivers were hit with penalty points for this offence - a rise of 35% compared to the same period last year. This reflects a crackdown after changes to the Highway Code last year made it illegal to even touch your phone while driving. That includes browsing playlists when queueing in traffic.

There has been a huge crackdown on drivers using their phone at the wheel
There has been a huge crackdown on drivers using their phone at the wheel

Top 20 breakdown

And here’s the full breakdown of DVLA data. We’ve included a description, the official offence code, and the number of drivers hit with penalty points during the first quarter of this year.

Rank Code Description Drivers
1 SP30 Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road 156,457
2 SP50 Exceeding speed on a motorway 38,386
3 IN10 Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks 10,286
4 CU80 Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone 7,135
5 MS90 Failure to give information as to identity of driver etc 5,224
6 TS10 Failing to comply with traffic light signals 4,701
7 SP10 Exceeding goods vehicle speed limits 3,573
8 LC20 Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence 1,789
9 CD10 Driving without due care and attention 1,476
10 CU30 Using a vehicle with defective tyre(s) 1,097
11 CD30 Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users 780
12 CU20 Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of use of unsuitable vehicle or using a vehicle with parts or accessories (excluding brakes, steering or tyres) in a dangerous condition 449
13 CU50 Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers 428
14 CD20 Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users 312
15 PC30 Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations with stationary vehicle 309
16 TS50 Failing to comply with traffic sign (excluding ‘stop’ signs, traffic lights or double white lines) 292
17 SP20 Exceeding speed limit for type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles) 229
18 DR40 In charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit 228
19 MW10 Contravention of special roads regulations (excluding speed limits) 200
20 AC10 Failing to stop after an accident 118

Driving without insurance

From our data, we can see that more than 10,000 drivers were caught driving without insurance from January to March this year - a jarring statistic.

While this is down on last year, it is nonetheless incredibly worrying that so many drivers are taking to the road without insurance - especially at a time when it only takes a few minutes to get insured to borrow a car using temporary insurance.

As well as IN10 - ‘using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks’, which featured in the top 20 most common driving offences resulting in penalty points - Cuvva also requested information on some other insurance-related offences.

Our data shows that during the same period, 59 drivers were issued penalty points for IN14: ‘Causing or permitting - using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks’. Essentially, this is where someone you know drives without insurance and you are in some way involved. For example, if you lend your car to someone you know isn’t insured. And two drivers were caught after breaking IN12, which refers to someone who has “aided, abetted, counselled or procured” a vehicle which was driven without insurance.

Again, in an era when it only takes a few moments to lend your car to someone, not doing so is inexcusable - and has a direct impact on everyone else’s premium price.

Whether you want to borrow someone else’s car, or lend someone your own, make sure you get a quote. Don’t become a statistic in our next guide!

Updated on 14th September 2023