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Startling figures reveal that nearly half a million vehicles in the UK are untaxed, which could pose potential safety risks on roads. According to the Department for Transport (DfT), 498,000 vehicles haven’t paid their Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), equating to one in every 83 vehicles.

Experts have expressed concern at the discovery that around a quarter (24%) of these vehicles have been untaxed for more than six months, stating that this evasion could be linked to broader criminal activity.

Northern Ireland shows the highest evasion rate at 2.9%, more than double the overall UK rate which stands at 1.3%. Authorities fear that beyond just the financial losses, these untaxed vehicles might lack other legal obligations such as insurance or an up-to-date MOT.

Nicholas Lyes, Director of Policy and Standards for IAM RoadSmart, said: “It will be hugely frustrating to the overwhelming majority of tax-paying drivers that almost half a million others are not paying their way.

“Perhaps even more worrying is that a quarter of those who are dodging vehicle excise duty have been doing so for more than six months. Untaxed vehicles are sometimes linked to much wider criminality and this has implications for safety on our roads.”

Every registered vehicle in the UK must be taxed when used or parked on a public road. The amount of tax depends on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Neglecting to pay this tax usually results in an £80 fine, but if the case escalates, the maximum penalty can reach £1,000.

Julie Lennard, Chief Executive for the DVLA, said: “As 98.7% of vehicles on the road are taxed correctly, it is very clear that the vast majority of drivers make sure they do the right thing and ensure their vehicle is taxed. However, we will continue our work to keep evasion rates low by continuing to make vehicle tax easy to pay but hard to avoid.”

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