Millions of zombie cars face possible fines of 3,000 euros




Zombie cars are those cars, motorcycles, vans and trucks that circulate without having contracted the compulsory insurance or that are abandoned to their fate. It is calculated that in Spain there are currently 2.65 million vehicles in this situation, which represents almost 8% of the Spanish automobile fleet. Vehicles that on many occasions are circulating irregularly, and that in other cases remain parked without their owners being aware that, although a car is not in circulation (something that has occurred and continues to occur in Spain as a result of the Covid -19), it is still mandatory to have it insured.

In total, more than 400,000 vehicles are registered in Traffic as temporary casualties of more than 5 years, from which it can be deduced that in reality these cars no longer physically exist, and that they have made them disappear once they are broken up. Since 2004, when the obligation to take the vehicle to the Authorized Treatment Center -CAT- was introduced after deregistering it for scrapping, this type of casualty has increased considerably, going from 5% to more than the current 15% . But another very high percentage still in circulation, with the consequent risk to traffic, and with important consequences for its owners, who can face fines of 3,000 euros, in addition to having to bear all the expenses in the event of an accident with material damage or victims.

According to the data collected by the insurer Línea Directa in the study ‘Zombie vehicles: Uninsured cars in Spain. Problems and accidents (2010-2019) ‘, presented today, in the last decade there have been more than 300,000 accidents with vehicles in these illegal situations. What’s more, almost 130,000 fines are imposed each year for having a car without insurance, more than double the number of complaints for testing positive for alcohol and drugs combined.

According to Mar Garre, Director of People, Communication and Sustainability of
Insurance Hotline
One of the reasons for this situation can be justified by the aging of the automobile fleet, with an average of 12.3 years in Spain, which “together with the unfavorable economic environment experienced during the last decade, has been able to increase the dimensions of the problem”. What’s more there is still a great lack of knowledge about the compulsory nature of the insurance «And a certain laxity in the procedures, since many owners do not renew the policies of the vehicles they do not use or do not cancel them in the General direction of traffic when they detach from them «. According to Garre, the rebound in this phenomenon experienced in the last year places the proportion of uninsured vehicles at 2010 levels, one of the highest in the decade.

By vehicle type, the report estimates that cars lead the list of zombie vehicles, with more than 1.8 million of them uninsuredfollowed by trucks and vans with 0.4 million, and then two-wheelers.

They are located mainly in the most tourist areas or second homes, dwhere two-wheelers are more numerous, motorcycles and motorcycles without insurance, since they are linked to temporary use. Specifically, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia lead the ranking of the non-insurance of vehicles, all well above the national average, located at 7.7%. On the opposite side are Aragón, La Rioja and Castilla y León, where the highest proportion of insured vehicles has been recorded.

Serious consequences

Accidents in which a zombie vehicle is involved are a source of problems: they have slower resolutions, there is twice the chance of injury and they tend to have a higher cost. “With this study we want to highlight the dangers and problems that driving without having compulsory insurance, a system that has provided great security to society for decades,” he says. Mar Garre. In his opinion, “insurance fulfills a social function, so we must become aware of a problem in which once again they pay justly for sinners, since we all end up suffering the irresponsibility of a few.”

Some irregular scrap yards use the figure of the temporary withdrawal of the vehicle to avoid complying with the European environmental regulations for scrapping the vehicle required of the Authorized Vehicle Treatment Centers at the end of its useful life. Susana Gómez, Deputy Assistant Director from
points out that there are citizens who decide to permanently withdraw their vehicle from circulation and unknowingly hand it over to an “irregular scrapping” with the confidence that it will be definitively withdrawn from circulation complying with environmental and traffic regulations. However, these “irregular” scrap yards request temporary removal, avoiding decontamination in accordance with environmental criteria and avoiding the obligation to remove it permanently. Subsequently, they give a new destination to the vehicle or its parts or export it to third countries.

According Rafael Pardo, Managing Director of
AEDRA (Spanish Association of Automobile Scrappers and Recycling)
In Spain, in recent years the number of temporary casualties has grown exponentially, which denotes that this figure is being used to illegally scrapping vehicles while the payment of the corresponding circulation tax is avoided “thereby causing damage not only to the sector of the Authorized Treatment Centers or CATs, which mostly represents AEDRA, but also to the whole of society, which suffers the decrease in tax revenues” . This practice also supposes, according to Pardo, “flagrant unfair competition and, above all, the lack of control derived from the dismantling of vehicles without respecting the slightest environmental treatment and praxis, and then putting parts and components on sale without quality control nor guarantee for the buyer, be it private or professional ».

[AQUÍ] to know the procedures to cancel a car

This situation is not unique in Spain, but also occurs in other countries of the European Union, which is why, the European Commission itself published a report in 2018 concerning the development in these years of the Directive on the treatment of vehicles at the end of their useful life, in which it indicates the need for States to adopt measures “on the administrative procedures of temporary leave” and “the improvement of knowledge of Information from the Vehicle Registry »to avoid situations in which the vehicle did not end its useful life in an Authorized Treatment Center at the end of its useful life.


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