Soaring petrol prices have increased the likelihood of drivers shunning motor cover, Biba has warned.

Graeme Trudgill, technical services manager at Biba, said that rising petrol prices could discourage people from buying insurance, either because they cannot afford to or because the relatively low fines mean they are prepared to take the risk of being caught.

He said every 1p rise in the price of petrol adds 0.1p per mile to driving costs.

Uninsured drivers are fined up to £150 for the offence and often less as the penalty is means tested.

Trudgill described the current fines as "absolutely ludicrous", saying Biba was campaigning for tougher penalties.

"You even see footballers given measly fines - we want to see magistrates get tough, particularly for repeat offenders."

He added: "We're working with the Sentencing Guidelines Council and want to see real deterrents - fines at least the cost of insurance the driver should be paying together with vehicle seizure, a criminal record and community service if appropriate.

"Uninsured driving is a massive epidemic."