UK wants to use cameras to prevent uninsured drivers from buying gas

The plan would use the country's advanced automatic number plate recognition system.

It is estimated that one out of every 25 drivers in the United Kingdom does not have insurance. That puts the total number of uninsured drivers at about 1.4 million, one of the worst statistics of its kind in Europe.

Law enforcement agencies have been largely unsuccessful in cracking down on these drivers, but the government has come up with a new plan that might put an end to the problem once and for all.

Most gas station (as well as many parking lots) in the UK are equipped with an advanced automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system. It works in conjunction with the country's notorious CCTV cameras to record the license plate number of every car that fuels up, which in turn makes it easier to track down buyers who leave the pump without paying.

Lawmakers want to use the ANPR system to double check whether or not cars arriving at gas stations are insured and taxed. If one of those is missing, the system would automatically stop the pump from dispensing fuel, which could leave the driver stranded.

Government officials have announced that they will meet with representatives from the country's major fuel companies in the next few weeks to discuss the pros and cons of the idea.

Some fuel companies are not waiting until the government meeting takes place to voice their concern. Critics fear that gas station cashiers will be the ones who will end up paying the price.

"Staff are already getting stick from motorists for high fuel prices. This proposal will increase the potential for conflict. Our cashiers are not law enforcers," said RMI Petrol's Brian Madderson.

Insurance companies are also a little skeptical about the idea. A spokeswoman for an unidentified major car insurer said that if a driver renews his or her insurance on a Saturday evening, the information might not be recorded until the following Monday. This could potentially lead to problems at the pump if the driver fills up the next day.