23 car crime stats every driver must read

Our cars play a huge role in our lives. We hate to think that they can become magnets for criminals – or, worse, be involved in serious accidents.
So let’s take a look at some of the figures behind the headlines to discover the true extent of accidents, motoring offences, and car-related crimes in the UK today.
Plus, we’ll put the spotlight on one particular crime that’s grown in recent years: that of keyless car theft.
If your vehicle is involved in a crime or accident, it could well end up being impounded. If this happens to you, get in touch with us at Insurance Factory to arrange impounded car insurance, which will help you get back on the road safely and legally.


1. There are on average five deaths on the UK’s roads per day

According to road safety charity Brake, between 2012 and 2019, there were around 1,850 deaths per year on the roads of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That figure dropped to 1,516 in 2020 due to lockdown travel restrictions. 
That’s a lot of prematurely ended lives, and families torn apart. If you’ve been bereaved or seriously injured in a car crash, Brake offers free, confidential, specialist support.

2. There are around 60 serious injuries per day

Brake says that it’s harder to calculate this figure, as police data recording methods have changed over the years. However, it’s about 22,000 serious injuries per year: a figure that’s declined slightly since 2010.
If you’re involved in an accident in which someone else is hurt, do you know what action to take? Stop as soon as it’s safe to do so, and phone the ambulance and police.
Your vehicle might well be seized for investigation by police, who will send you a notification letter when it’s ready for collection from the pound.
The letter will give you details of what documents you’ll need to provide, including your insurance policy. You might need to get specialist impounded insurance to cover you for collecting your vehicle.

3. Young men are most likely to be killed

Male drivers aged between 17 and 24 are more than four times as likely to be killed on the roads than drivers aged 25 and above, per billion miles travelled. That’s a devastating statistic.
The THINK! campaign aims to cut these deaths by promoting safe driving habits among younger drivers.

4. 46 horses died on the UK’s roads in 2021

Sadly, there was almost one equine death per week on our roads last year. A further 118 horses and 130 humans (riders, handlers or carriage drivers) were injured too, according to figures collected by the British Horse Society.
The organisation has welcomed the changes to the Highway Code that came into force in January 2022. This includes the creation of a hierarchy of road users, which means that vehicles must take more care around vulnerable road users such as horses. It also gives guidance about overtaking horses: vehicles should do so at no more than 10mph, and allow at least two metres of space.

5. There were 4,620 drink-drive accidents in 2020

These drink-drive accidents caused 6,480 people to be injured, of which more than 1,000 were seriously hurt and 220 were sadly killed.
Any drink-drive death is a tragedy. However, it is encouraging to note that the figure has dropped  dramatically since 1979, when the total number of drink-related accidents was 19,470, killing around 1,640 people. That’s despite the much lower number of vehicles on the roads back then.
If you’re caught drink-driving, you can expect to face a stiff penalty: a driving ban, a hefty fine, and even imprisonment. Stay sober on the roads!

6. 24% of people have used a handheld mobile phone while driving in the past year

Research commissioned by the Department for Transport in 2021 found a range of non-compliant mobile phone usage.
One survey suggests that almost a quarter of people have used a handheld device while driving, rising to 36% of 16-24 year-olds and 39% of those aged 25-34. Among people who drive for work, the figure was 30%.
The research also found that 81% of people supported the strengthening of regulations aimed at combating mobile phone usage which came into force in 2022. If you’re caught using your smartphone at the wheel, you now face six points on your licence and a £200 fine.

7. There are 92,000 drivers with 9-11 points on their licence

That’s according to DVLA figures from 2021 obtained by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart. Those motorists are just one offence away from accruing 12 points.
However, the charity also discovered that 8,800 motorists were still driving despite having 12 or more points on their licences. While 12 points is usually an automatic ban, drivers are sometimes allowed to keep their licences if they prove that disqualification would cause them exceptional hardship, for example, they would lose their jobs.
Remember: if you’re caught driving while unlicensed and uninsured, your vehicle can be seized by police. You, or someone collecting it on your behalf, are likely to need car insurance for impounded cars to get it back.

8. More than 48,000 vehicles were reported stolen last year in the UK

DVLA figures show that 48,316 vehicles were reported stolen in 2021 in the UK, up from 46,887 the previous year. More than half – 26,139 – were recovered.
Those figures sound high, but there were 39.2 million vehicles registered in Great Britain last year. Of those, 32 million – or 81.6% - were cars, with the remainder being lorries, motorcycles, buses and so on. 
If your car is stolen, you’ll need to report it to the police. You’ll get a crime reference number, which you should then give to your insurance company. The government website has more information about what to do if your vehicle is stolen.
If your vehicle is stolen then abandoned, it’s likely to be impounded by police. At Insurance Factory, we can arrange impounded car insurance to help reunite you with your car.

9. The most commonly stolen cars were Ford Fiestas

Thousands of Ford Fiestas were stolen in 2021, with Land Rovers and Ford Focuses also featuring in the top 20 list of most commonly stolen vehicles.
If you’re a Ford Fiesta owner, that doesn’t mean your car is a thief magnet. They’re the most common cars on the UK’s roads, with more than 1.5 million of us driving one.

10. In 44% of vehicle-related thefts, the car was unlocked

Yes, it’s true. This figure is from the Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW) 2020, and concerns all vehicle-related thefts (whether of the vehicle itself, or its contents).
It was by far the most common way that thieves entered cars, with breaking windows second on 18%.
Of course, some of those thefts will have taken place in a matter of minutes – when you leave your car unlocked for a moment while loading it. Others are because owners mistakenly think their vehicle locks automatically.
And still other thefts take place when an owner leaves their engine running to defrost the windscreen.
So this is a timely reminder never to leave your car doors unsecured – otherwise, you could return to find your valuables missing. At least you’ll know you’re not alone in forgetting to lock up.
However, today’s car criminals are also finding more devious ways to enter your vehicle – we’ll explain how at the end of this article, so read on to find out more!

11. Over three-quarters of vehicle-related thefts take place at the owner’s home

You might think that your vehicle is most likely to be targeted in a public car park, but that’s not the case. Some 79% of thefts recorded in the CSEW were from the owner’s home, including drives, garages, or the street.
Of course, that’s partly because our cars spend more time at our homes than anywhere else, particularly at night. Which brings us onto our next essential stat…

12. 80% of all vehicle-related thefts take place in the evening or at night

Those hours of darkness really are invaluable for thieves! Again, this covers both thefts from and thefts of vehicles.
If your car is nicked, you should report it as soon as you notice it missing. It might well be used in a crime, or abandoned. If the police seize it, they’ll notify you when it’s ready for collection from the pound and tell you what documents you’ll need to prove it’s yours. If you require impounded car insurance, get in touch with the Insurance Factory for a quote.

13. 78% of people are emotionally affected by vehicle-related theft

Does this figure sound low to you? It rises to 88% when it’s the vehicle itself that’s stolen, but that still leaves 12% of people who claim to be unbothered. Maybe they’re lying, or perhaps there are some very stoic people out there!
The most common emotion is annoyance, followed by anger and shock. Your annoyance level is likely to be very high indeed if your vehicle is abandoned and impounded by police, as getting it back can be a hassle. You might even discover you need impounded car insurance: fortunately, at Insurance Factory, we can arrange this for you quickly and smoothly.

14. The average cost of items stolen from cars was £357

Phones, wallets, laptops – it’s all too easy to leave these expensive bits of kits on show for thieves to see. Especially when it’s just for a moment - to run into the shop or pay for petrol.
Sometimes there’s just too much stuff to unload easily. Take tools from a commercial van for example. In 7% of cases of thefts from vehicles, the value of goods stolen was between £1,000 and £10,000.

15. 48% of stolen vehicles returned to owners are damaged

In 30% of cases, that damage means the vehicle has to be written off. However, this statistic is based on a small sample size, so should be treated with caution.

16. Around 13,000 catalytic converters were stolen in 2019

That’s according to figures obtained by the BBC, which also show that London was particularly badly hit. It was a sixfold increase on the previous year.
Catalytic converters are devices fitted to vehicle exhausts to reduce dangerous emissions. They can be removed in under a minute by criminal gangs, and sold for their valuable metals. Hybrid vehicles are particularly at risk.
The British Transport Police has some tips for reducing the risks, including protecting your converter with a manufacturer-approved lock or guard, registering or marking it, and parking your vehicle in a well-lit area.

17. There were an estimated 719,000 unlicensed vehicles in the UK in 2021

The Department for Transport estimates this is the number of vehicles which haven’t paid their Vehicle Excise Duty, or car tax. The figure excludes motorcycles, and amounts to roughly 1.8-1.9% of all vehicles in the UK.
The rate is lowest in the South East of England (1.5%) and highest in Northern Ireland (2.7%).
These days, the DVLA has enforcement teams around the UK travelling in vehicles equipped with number plate recognition cameras, so it’s harder for motorists to get away without paying.
Plus, people can check online to see if a vehicle is taxed, and report it if not.
Vehicles that are untaxed can be clamped or impounded instantly. Getting reunited with your vehicle is a hassle: you’ll need to pay your tax, any fines and storage fees, and might need to take out impounded car insurance. We’ve included more details at the end of this piece.

18. 56% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads

These Department for Transport figures relate to cars travelling in free-flowing traffic conditions - no hills, sharp corners, traffic jams, speed cameras or other hindrances. They represent estimates of the speed that motorists drive at when they can choose!
They also show that 53% of cars exceeded the speed limit on motorways in 2020, while just 12% did so on single carriageway roads at the national speed limit.

19. There were almost 2.5 million speeding cases in England and Wales

In 2020-21, there were a total of 2,426,950 cases of speeding recorded by police and reported to the Home Office.
Of course, pandemic-related travel restrictions reduced traffic levels that year. In 2019-20, there were 2,584,571 speeding offences recorded.
Of those cases in 2020-21, 40% were dealt with through a speed awareness course. 31% were given a fixed penalty notice, and 10% ended in court action.
Some 17% of them were later cancelled, i.e. because the speeding vehicle was an emergency vehicle travelling with blue lights, or because the speed camera was faulty.

20. 96% of speeding offences were captured by cameras

But even when there are no cameras around, you should still keep your speed under the limit!

21. 14,618 provisional licence holders were prosecuted for driving without insurance in 2020

That’s a 16% increase on 2018 figures, and may be attributed to pandemic-related restrictions on driving lessons and tests, according to the latest figures.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, the police have the right to seize vehicles where they believe the driver is uninsured. They’ll take it to the pound, where you’ll have to pay fines and fees to get it back. You’ll also have to prove you are licensed and insured to drive it: Insurance Factory can arrange impounded car insurance to cover you for driving the vehicle away from the pound.

22. 96.5% of drivers use a seatbelt

This figure refers to drivers of all types of vehicle observed in Great Britain on weekdays in 2017, the last time this Department for Transport research was carried out.
For front seat passengers, the figure was 93.1%, and for rear seat passengers, 90.7%. Among car drivers, the figure rises to 98.6%.
Why is this statistic one that all motorists should know? Because when it comes to accidents, a shocking 27% of car occupant fatalities in 2017 were people not wearing a seatbelt – a hugely disproportionate number.
So buckle up, and make sure your passengers are wearing a seatbelt, too. They really do save lives.

23. Scams relating to the DVLA rose by 603%

Figures released by the DVLA show a huge jump in reports to its contact centre of fraudulent emails, phone calls and texts. The rise relates to the three months up to September 2021, compared with the same period in 2019.
The scams ask drivers to verify licence details, pretend that tax payments have failed, ask for bank details, and offer vehicle tax refunds.
If you’re on the receiving end, help protect other motorists by reporting the scam to Action Fraud.

Focus on keyless car theft

So that’s a whistle-stop guide to some of the key car crime and accident figures. Now let’s take a look at a new crime on the rise: keyless car theft.
According to the CSEW 2020, when it comes to stealing cars (not thefts of goods from cars), the most common form of entry was this: “Offender manipulated signal from remote locking device.”

This was the case in 36% of thefts, followed by using a key or electric fob (24%) and entering through an unlocked door (14%). It’s a huge rise on the previous year, when just 13% of stolen vehicles were entered in this way. There’s no data before 2019, as the technology is relatively new.
So what does it mean? Essentially, it’s when criminals hack into your vehicle’s electronic systems to unlock the door.
The most well-known method is called a “relay attack”, and often takes place when a car is parked on a driveway, or on the street by the owner’s house. It involves tricking your car into thinking the key is nearby.
One criminal holds a device next to your car, which amplifies the security signal that the vehicle transmits. An accomplice stands near your home, holding a device that relays a pairing signal from your vehicle key, which is inside your house.
The first thief can then open the car door, start the engine – and drive off in your vehicle.
Some thieves are now even disabling the owner’s home Wi-Fi to prevent their crime being captured by doorbell video.
In 2020, 93% of the vehicles recorded as stolen by vehicle company Tracker were subject to a relay attack.
So how can you protect your vehicle? Here are some top tips:
  • Place your key fob and any spares inside a closed tin when not in use.
  • Install security measures on your driveway such as lighting or even posts and a gate.
  • Fit a steering wheel lock to your car.
  • Don’t leave car documents or spare keys inside your vehicle, as this makes it easier for thieves to sell on.
  • Consider fitting a vehicle tracker to help reunite you with your stolen car.

What to do if your vehicle is impounded

In many of the above crimes, your vehicle can end up in the pound. This could be the case if it’s stolen and abandoned, if you’ve failed to tax it, or if it’s involved in an accident.
To get it back, you’ll need to find out where the pound is. This should be included on any notification you’ve received, or you can contact your local police station by calling 101.
You’ll then need to go along to the pound with documents to prove your car belongs to you, and that it’s insured. You might need to take out impounded insurance for cars, usually valid for a month, before your car will be released to you.
There are also likely to be admin charges and storage fees to pay, plus any fines or outstanding tax.
There’s more guidance on getting a clamped or impounded car released at the government website.

Contact Insurance Factory today

Here at Insurance Factory, we really hope that your motoring goes smoothly. But if it doesn’t, and your car is seized or taken to the pound, we’ll be happy to help you at this stressful time.
We can arrange impounded car insurance that allows you to drive your vehicle away from the pound, and covers you for the next month. That gives you time to get your affairs in order and arrange ongoing cover.
Get in touch now for a quote.