Experts: Many drive without roadworthiness checks or insurance

A number of cars that have not undergone a roadworthiness test and have not acquired a compulsory civil liability policy (OCTA) drive on the public roads of Latvia every day. Such vehicles are time bombs and it is in the public interest to eradicate them, said Agris Daukšte, representative of the Latvian Vehicle Insurers Bureau, and Oskars Irbītis, a traffic safety expert, said on the Latvian Radio broadcast “How to Live Better” October 16.

The Latvian Vehicle Insurers' Bureau, Road Traffic Safety Service (CSDD) and the State Police have topicalized the issue of participation in road traffic without a valid roadworthiness test and OCTA in October, because there is still a large number of road users driving without valid documents.

"We assume they areup to 2% of all road users, although different statistical sources show different results. If we look at the proportion of accidents caused, it is safe that one to two percent are those caused by uninsured vehicles,” Daukšte noted.

Irbītis said that it was enough to cause problems.

“This will be particularly problematic for these drivers themselves because if we look at how many accidents we have in a year, it is about 40 thousand. On average, at least two cars are involved in each of these accidents. So it's about 80 thousand cars involved in accidents. We have about 800 thousand active vehicles in traffic – those who go through maintenance checks and can be registered. What does that mean? This means that one in ten cars actually gets into an accident within a year,“ Irbītis said. For those without insurance, it can be costly.

“The risk of having to pay out of your own pocket, and those numbers can be quite big, is very real. People are unaware that, in fact, it is not the police or any of the supervising authorities that will bring the biggest financial problems, but the insurers [..]. The bailiff will come and say – you owe us 10 or 20 thousand now, for example,” explained Irbītis.

“There's another nuance. According to statistics, accidents in which the vehicle has not been insured often [..] also lacks roadworthiness tests and the driver is drunk and without a license. Last year, of those accidents caused without OCTA, 30% are those caused by vehicles that also don't have roadworthiness tests,” Daukšte noted.

Such vehicles are "time bombs" on Latvian roads, Irbītis said.

“They can cause significant damage at any time. So a car in a bad condition, a driver in an even worse condition, and they don't have insurance. It is fundamentally very important in the public interest to eradicate these drivers because it can directly affect any of the other road users and cause enough trouble,” he said.

Arturs Smilga, the head of the State Police's Administration of Traffic Safety Management, acknowledged that police see such cases fairly frequently on a daily basis.

“I will agree with Mr Irbītis, such a vehicle is subject to increased danger. One has to understand that you can cause very much trouble with one and cause tragedy. I would not like to make any specific exceptions in such a case. As soon as a separate exception is made for one, someone will turn up at once, who will have another reason to justify his driving without a roadworthiness test, without insurance, or even under the influence of alcohol,” Smilga said.

Smilga said that 5,812 drivers without OCTA were caught on the road in nine months last year and 7,212 this year. With the help of speed cameras, another 7,043 cases were detected last year, and 5,981 in nine months this year. It should be noted that these figures are influenced by both the number of cameras and the ability of police officers to catch offenders – this year police cars are equipped with automatic number plate readers, which makes this work easier.

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