17 December 2010

Just had a thought about dealing with road tax evasion and uninsured/unMOTed drivers/cars

My manager was just talking about how in sonme continental countries the tax, MOT and insurance certificates are a single document and you can't MOT your car until it's taxed and insured. She suggested that we should implement that here.

It gave me an idea!

Currently in the UK you cannot tax your car until you have an MOT and insurance. If, therefore, you don't tax your car you can get away with no MOT or insurance. My idea is to turn the tax disc into a 2 part document. Retain the current paper disc but add a smart card. Compel all petrol retailers to attach a reader for the card to their pumps (maybe offer grants and/or loans to smaller retailers, in particular in areas where there is restricted availability of petrol retailers). If the card is not inserted the pump will not dispense fuel. The card would store the date the next MOT is due, which garage did the last MOT, the date the insurance is due for renewal, who the insurance is with and type of fuel the car takes (so if you pick up the wrong nozzle the pump can warn you and not dispense fuel until you pick up the correct nozzle or acknowledge the message), maybe reg number, make and model of the car. It could also store when you filled up, how much fuel you had and how much it cost, some retailers may want to offer a service to print off your fuel use for you. If the tax, MOT or Insurance is more than a month overdue the pump either won't dispense fuel or will only dispense a small quantity. I am not suggesting that any central database be kept linking cards to petrol purchases so 'Database State' whiners don't need to get all het up.

The result of this would be that if you don't have a current MOT and insurance you can't buy fuel, or can only buy a small amount. Essentially it's enforcing the rule that if you want to drive you have to do so legally.

The main hole I can see is that people may use the card for one car with another so they might have one car which is taxed, insured and MOTed and use the card to fill up one that isn't and whilst the card may show that the car is insured it doesn't guarantee that the person currently driving it is insured. A smaller hole is that some retailers may use the card as a way to gather marketing information and to make offers, "Hey, you're insurance is up for renewal. Would you like us to get you a quote?" Even that could be an advantage as insurers (and quote websites such as confused.com &c)could put vending machines in petrol stations and other locations to allow people to buy or upgrade their insurance by inserting their card and just tapping in relevant details such as the type of insurance needed and who will need to be insured.

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