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Increase in convictions for defective vehicle parts

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The number of drivers convicted for defective vehicle parts offences has reached its highest level since 2014, according to new analysis from Green Flag. The findings, based on analysis of Ministry of Justice data, show that last year 12,349 motorists were convicted for defective vehicle parts in England and Wales. This is an 18 per cent increase from the 10,478 convictions in 2021 and a 56 per cent rise from the 7,928 convictions in 2020.

Defective vehicle part offences are a group of motoring crimes that include defective breaks, steering, gears and tyres. It also covers using a vehicle in a dangerous condition or breaching legal exhaust emission limits. Of these, defective tyres are the most common offence with 9,608 drivers being convicted in 2022.

Tyres must meet the legal minimum tread limit of 1.6mm, however it is widely recommended that tyres should be replaced as soon as the tread reaches 3mm3. Driver convictions for defective vehicle parts have increased by 255 per cent year-on-year in Durham – the largest rise of any UK region.

Convictions also increased by 113 per cent in Leicestershire and 109% in Northamptonshire from 2021 – the second and third largest rises respectively. Gwent has seen the biggest drop in convictions for defective car parts of any region – down 55 per cent from the previous year. Green Flag’s analysis also shows 89 per cent of motorists convicted of defective vehicle part offences in 2022 were men and 69 per cent were under the age of 40. There are many potential reasons why occurrences of defective parts have risen.

Some motorists may now be opting for cheaper defective car parts to offset the rising cost of repairs parts, while others may be delaying repairs as they can’t afford the cost of the maintenance. According to the ABI, the cost of vehicle repairs rose by 33 per cent year-on-year to £1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2023, the highest figure since 2013. Motorists convicted of driving with defective car parts may receive three penalty points on their driving licences and a fine.

The average fine for those convicted of these offences in 2022 was £270 – down slightly from £301 in 2021. However, the largest penalty for defective vehicle part offences in 2022 was up to £5,000 – three motorists received a penalty around this size last year.

Katie Lomas, managing director of Green Flag, comments: “Drivers may not realise they have inadequate parts in their vehicles, or that they could face conviction, but the data shows that it’s still a prevalent issue and one for drivers to be aware of.

“Ensuring a car’s brakes, tyres and steering are well maintained is not only an essential part of keeping a car roadworthy, but it also ensures the safety of the driver, passengers and other vehicles on the road. Motorists should regularly check these car parts and if they have any doubts, stop driving and have their car seen to by a professional mechanic.”

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