Whilst you might consider yourself to be a good driver, the same can’t be said for others in the UK. In fact, penalty points have become quite common amongst motorists. According to the latest stats from the DVSA, almost 2.7 million full licence holders have penalty points on their record! It’s enough to make a driving instructor weep. You might be wondering, then, where do the UK’s worst drivers live?
To answer that question, we’ve delved into the DVSA’s latest figures for the number of penalty points given to motorists by postcode. Below, you’ll find out which cities, towns and postcode districts contain the highest percentage of penalty point holders. We’ve even included an interactive map so you can check how bad the drivers in your area are!
The full picture
There are currently over 41 million full licence holders in the UK. (Though, of course, not all of these licence holders actively drive.) The number of those with penalty points stands—as of December 2019—at 2,699,544. This means that 6.58% of licence holders in the UK have committed some kind of motoring offence. That’s about 1 in 15!
These types of offences can range from speeding to drink driving to not wearing a seatbelt. The more serious the offence, the more points you receive. Penalty points can stay on a driver’s record for a minimum of four years, and, up to 11 years if the offence is serious enough.
The question, then, is which areas have the most drivers with penalty points? To find the answer, we turned to the expert in all things driving stats-related: the DVSA. Using the latest data, we were able to find out which postcodes have the highest percentage of drivers with penalty points.
Where do the UK’s worst drivers live?
We’re going to kick things off with a look at the towns and cities with the highest percentage of motorists with penalty points on their full driving licence. We’ve broken it down into the top ten in the table below.
|City/Town||No. of Drivers with Full Licences||No. of Drivers with Penalty Points||Percentage of Drivers with Penalty Points|
As you can see, Bath takes the cake here. Out of a total of 315,304 motorists living in the area, 45,242 have penalty points. This means 14.35% of local licence holders have at least one penalty point on their licence! However, the rest of the top ten are dominated by areas in Yorkshire, including Leeds, Bradford and Halifax. Rounding out this bunch of miscreant drivers are Slough and Bristol.
In sharp contrast to these figures, Canterbury appears to have the best drivers around—with only 3.91% of its licence holders having penalty points on their driving record.
Not detailed enough? We’re way ahead of you! We’ve created an interactive map so you can see what the percentage of drivers with penalty points is like in your area. You can get the full breakdown in the map below.
Let’s take a closer look
So, we’ve covered the general towns and cities with the highest percentage of penalty point holders. Next, we’re going to narrow it down even further by looking at the top 10 postcode districts with the highest percentage of motorists with penalty points on their licence. Hint: you might be able to spot a pattern emerging!
|Postcode||City/Town||No. of Drivers with Full Licences||No. of Drivers with Penalty Points||Percentage of Drivers with Penalty Points|
The postcode district with the highest percentage of motorists with points on their licence is BD13 in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Of the 18,229 qualified drivers in the area, 2,665 of them have points on their licence—that’s 14.62%! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Bradford. There are four more of its postcodes in the top 10—BD4, BD14, BD3 and BD9 respectively.
You might be sensing a slight trend here. All of the postcodes in this table fall into the West Yorkshire region. LS23, in the Leeds area, takes the second spot with 933 out of 6,872 qualified motorists holding points on their licence—working out at 13.58%.
Though it may seem odd that so many of the worst-offending areas are so close together, it’s worth noting that West Yorkshire was “among the top 10 counties for number of offenders” in 2017 according to the BBC. Bradford itself has also seen some publicity over the years for the poor driving in and around the city.
Penalty points broken down
Our next step with the DVSA’s data was to look at what the distribution of penalty points was like amongst the top 10 postcodes with the highest percentage of penalty point holders. If you look at the table below, you can see how many points each person has (out of those who have any points at all).
|Breakdown of Penalty Point Numbers in the Top 10 Postcodes
The vast majority of these penalty point holders have only accumulated three points overall. The numbers dip and then peak once more at six points—the second highest number of points that these drivers have on their record. This isn’t too surprising, as most common driving offences usually carry penalties of either 3 or 6 penalty points.
Of course, even the most careful driver around can end up picking up the odd point or two. Whilst these postcodes certainly have the highest percentage of motorists with penalty points, that’s not to say that these areas are home to the worst drivers in the UK.
With that in mind, we decided to delve further into these figures to instead look at which areas have the most motorists with 12 penalty points or more on their licence.
The worst of the bunch
Of the 2,699,544 motorists who have points from committing a driving offence, an alarming 10,648 have 12 or more penalty points on record. We sifted through these figures to find out which areas are home to the most drivers with 12 or more points on their current driving record. Have a look at the table below to see which areas made it into the top ten…
|Postcode||Region||No. of Drivers with 12 or more Penalty Points|
|London (London postcodes)||Greater London||834|
|Birmingham (B)||West Midlands||363|
|Peterborough (PE)||East England||266|
|Newcastle upon Tyne (NE)||North East||244|
|Sheffield (S)||Yorkshire & The Humber||243|
|Leeds (LS)||Yorkshire & The Humber||228|
|Liverpool (L)||North West||228|
|Nottingham (N)||East Midlands||225|
|Manchester (M)||North West||222|
|Leicester (LE)||East Midlands||212|
London takes the lead here, with a whopping 834 motorists with 12 or more penalty points on their record. Of course, it’s important to note that given London’s population size, it’s not at all surprising to find it in first place here. Birmingham comes in second with 363 motorists. What is surprising here, however, is Peterborough coming in third with 266. With the lowest population size out of this top ten list, it’s certainly not one we’d anticipated. The rest on the list are home to over 200 motorists with 12 penalty points or more on their licence.
The highest number of points currently on record is 66, belonging to a 48-year old male in Rochester. The worst female driver is a 34-year old woman from Blackburn, with 49 points on her licence.
Though in most cases, accumulating 12 points will lead to a driving ban for a motorist, there are rare occasions in which a magistrate can choose not to. Take this speeding driver, for example, who accrued 62 penalty points and yet was still able to drive!
How do drivers end up with so many penalty points?
Though these figures may seem shocking, it seems that getting a few points on your licence is more common than you may think. You’ll almost definitely have a friend or family member with some! The reality is that drivers end up picking up points every day—sometimes for obvious motoring offences that they’re aware of, and other times for ones they’re completely oblivious to. Let’s take a look at a few examples, shall we?
- Speeding: one of the most common driving offences around. Speeding can see you receive a minimum of 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine.
- Driving under the influence: if you’re caught drink or drug driving, you could receive between 6 and 11 points, a fine and up to 6 months’ imprisonment.
- Driving without insurance: if you’re caught without insurance, you could receive between 6 to 8 penalty points, a fixed fine of £300 and possible disqualification from driving.
- Ignoring road signs: if you neglect to follow the rules of the road, you could end up with 3 points on your licence, not to mention a fine.
It’s easy enough to build up penalty points on your licence, even without realising. Let’s say, for example, that you’re driving down an unfamiliar route. If you miss a speed camera on the way there and back, you could easily end up with 6 points. That being said, most of these situations arise from motorists being too lax with their approach to driving—going just over the speed limit (which can also have repercussions). If you want to avoid penalty points or being disqualified from driving altogether, be vigilant when you’re on the road.