The war against the uninsured driving in the UK has entered a new phase, the Association of British Insurers reports. Police forces can now use automatic number plate recognition cameras to spot cars being driven without insurance.

Under the new powers, the police can then seize and dispose of vehicles being driven uninsured.

On the day the national crackdown was launched in Birmingham by the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, Stephen Haddrill, the ABI’s director general, said:

Uninsured motorists will now start to feel the full effect of the crackdown on this danger. As more police forces adopt the new technology, uninsured drivers will find it harder than ever to flout the law. Ridding our roads of this menace will not only improve road safety, but reduce the cost for honest motorists, who pay up to an extra GBP30 a year on their insurance as a result of accidents involving uninsured motorists.

Police in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the West Midlands, and West Yorkshire are targeting uninsured drivers using new technology. The police will link the automatic number plate recognition information to details of potentially uninsured vehicles held on the Motor Industry Database.

At any one time one in 20 motorists are driving without insurance – 5% of all motorists, more than 1 million in total. Accidents involving these drivers cost up to GBP500 million a year, the ABI says.