Get them off our streets!

DRIVE without insurance and you will be named and shamed!

TODAY The Evening Star reveals the secret shame of tens of thousands of drivers in Suffolk.

Our investigations have revealed the courts recorded more than 43,000 offences of people driving without insurance in Suffolk in the last ten years.

With latest high-profile piling extra pain on to serious injury, The Star has moved into campaigning overdrive.

Today we're announcing a major extension of our Name and Shame campaign - keeping our Christmas drink-driving campaign and extending the printing of names and pictures of those who arriving on our roads without insurance.

We know we won't be able to name and shame everyone who comes through our courts on no insurance charges - but we'll do all we can to show local people just who is thumbing their noses at the law - and putting YOU at risk.

Just look at the case of Rob Gentry - a loving, family man who's life has been wrecked after a horror crash in Ipswich.

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Davide Mendes who ploughed into him early one morning on Woodbridge Road only had a provisional licence and the policy which insured him to drive had expired five days earlier.

He has to spend the next two years in a youth offending institute, but Mr Gentry is being forced to go back to work months earlier than he should, despite having a broken back, so he can keep a roof over his family's head.

If Mendes had been insured there would have been enough compensation paid out to enable Mr Gentry to afford to recover properly.

Today Mr Gentry has called for custodial sentences for those caught driving without insurance and has backed our campaign.

He said: “Anything that keeps these people off the roads has my backing.

“I'm not sure if they know or even care about the impact their actions have on other people's lives but they continue to be allowed to do it by avoiding custodial sentences.

“They get the same punishment as people who insure their cars but get caught doing a couple of miles over the speed limit, so what's stopping them?

“Insurance companies have an obligation to catch them before an accident happens.”

The campaign is launched just a few weeks ahead of our annual drink drive campaign which sees those who get behind the wheel drunk over the festive period named and shamed for all to see.

It also comes hot on the heels of our Save a Life campaign launched in conjunction with Suffolk Police, Suffolk County Council and other road safety agencies who have all joined together to make the county's roads a safer place to be, targeting those who drive without seatbelts, while talking on their mobile phones and after drinking alcohol.

Today Suffolk Police have been joined by the region's MPs in condemning motorists who choose to ignore the law, after a question tabled in parliament uncovered the extent of the problem of people driving without insurance.

In just a decade, the county's courts recorded 4,566 incidents of driving while disqualified and a further 43,599 offences of getting behind the wheel without motor insurance.

And Suffolk police's inspector Alex Morrison blasted those who flout the law.

He said: “On average there are about 200 motorists a month in the county who are caught without insurance or a licence. Obviously that level of offending is a grave concern.

“Some people take a risk and don't get insurance but if they then get involved in a collision, the consequences are big.

“The chances are if the motorist does not have insurance or a licence, they are not going to stop at the scene and the innocent motorist is left with the damage.”

What the MPs say:-

Ipswich MP Chris Mole backed The Evening Star's campaign to name and shame those convicted of driving without insurance.

He said: “I am aware of an increasing number of people who are being convicted of driving without insurance and that is clearly something that is a matter of concern.

“There has to be work to try to reduce the number of people offending in this way - either through a programme of education or by police targeting those responsible. There needs to be a combination of the two.

“Certainly those who are convicted of this offence should appear in court which is a public place - and as such the media should be able to report on what has happened. I certainly back any campaign to highlight the problem by focussing on those who are breaking the law.”

David Ruffley, Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “People who don't insure their cars are breaking the law and can cause untold misery for people who they crash into and can't be compensated. They are therefore completely antisocial.”

John Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I think the campaign is a very good idea.

“People are getting fed up with being billed for accidents that happened through no fault of their own because the other person wasn't insured.

“An awful lot of people seem to be doing it and it's often difficult for the police to get hold of them.”

Save a Life:-

The Evening Star, alongside Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk SafeCam, the Highways Agency and the East of England Ambulance Service, has launched a ten-week Save a Life campaign to reduce the numbers of those getting killed or seriously injured on our county's roads.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the shocking statistics surrounding the amount of accidents on Suffolk's roads, which could be so easily avoided by just thinking before getting behind the wheel.

Among the core areas to be tackled throughout the campaign are speeding, using mobile phones while driving, drink and drug driving, not wearing seatbelts.

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