Uninsured drivers could cost honest motorists as much as £60 on top of their premiums by 2005.

Research carried out for Direct Line found the levy paid by insurers to the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) could hit £470m by 2005.

The MIB estimates the actual cost of uninsured drivers to be double the levy. The levy for 2000 was £215m, adding around £25 to the cost of a policy.

One in twenty cars in the UK is thought to be uninsured, one of the highest figures in Western Europe. Only Greece has a higher proportion of uninsured vehicles.

The research found that 98% of motorists believed driving without insurance was unacceptable, but 10% of those polled said they knew someone who drove without insurance.

Steve Treloar, Direct Line's motor business manager, said: “We must challenge the perception that uninsured driving is a victimless crime.

“The cost of uninsured driving is increasing the premiums of every honest motorist in Britain.”

Drivers quizzed for the report believe that effective measures must be put in place to help reduce the number of people driving without insurance.

More than a quarter feel fines should be increased and 23% favour imprisonment for persistent offenders.