More than 15,000 vehicles without insurance have been seized by Essex Police since 2018 for not having insurance, new figures have revealed.

The statistics come as a leading motoring body warns drivers "don't take the risk" by dodging car insurance before hitting the road.

Figures obtained by the AA drivers' association show 17,190 uninsured cars have been seized by Essex Police since the start of 2018 – including at least 2,126 so far this year.

Across the UK, more than half a million motors have been impounded for not having proper insurance over that timeframe.

In 2021, 3,555 vehicles were seized by police in Essex – equating to three seizures for every 1,000 licensed vehicles in the area as of the end of 2021.

Many forces now use automatic number plate recognition to check whether cars are road-legal, which can instantly tell officers whether cars have insurance and an up-to-date MOT.

Gus Park, managing director for AA Insurance Services, said: “Every driver is worried about being involved in a collision, but worse still is the other party being uninsured.

“Sadly, we know that when times are hard some people try to cut their costs, and one area people are tempted to chance it is cutting out their motor insurance.

“However, these figures show that forces across the country are on the lookout and will take an uninsured car away.”

Despite successive lockdowns, 2020 saw the most cars seized in Essex and across the country – nearly 130,000 were taken off UK roads, including 4,135 in the area.

Mr Park said drivers should be wary of the penalties for not having insurance.

“Not only is there the chance of having your car seized, but the criminal and financial hardship is not worth the gamble,” he added.

Drivers caught without proper insurance can face a fine of £300 and six points on their licence – with the potential for larger fines or even a driving ban if their case goes to court.