Abandoned cars are more than just an ugly nuisance. They can be a road safety issue depending on where they have been abandoned. Local councils are paying for the removal of these, and in return, of course, so do we in higher council tax bills.

Recent statistics show the problem is growing steadily, with more than 1,200 vehicles being removed in England and Wales last year alone, that is over 33 abandoned cars every day. This is only a small drop in the ocean when you consider that over 140,000 abandoned vehicles were reported altogether. Luckily some abandoned cars are removed by owners or insurance and do not cost the councils.

Why are cars abandoned?

One of the reasons, apart from vehicles that have been stolen and dumped, is the cost of insurance. Perhaps the cost to insure is far more than the cost to purchase, especially when buying an old run-around car for a few hundred pounds, and therefore it’s just easier to leave on the side of the road. Drivers of these cars often do not put their correct details on the logbooks, making them hard to track.

How to tell if a vehicle has been abandoned

There are a few obvious signs that a vehicle has been abandoned, smashed windows, signs of collision or flat tyres. You can also check online with the registration number to see if it is taxed.

Knowing if a car is abandoned or parked without caring for others for a while is important. It’s also very annoying if they block your driveway or a busy junction. In these cases, you can report to your local council, or if it is causing a danger to other road users, you can call 101 and report to the police.

What to do if you suspect an abandoned car

Once you have decided if the offending vehicle has been abandoned, you can call your local council directly and report, but confused.com have a quick tool (https://www.confused.com/car-insurance/guides/how-to-report-abandoned-car)to help report abandoned cars to local councils easily.

It is essential not to try and move an abandoned vehicle as it may be evidence of a crime and be particularly unsafe if it has been in a collision.

What happens after an abandoned car has been reported

Once the council are aware of an established, abandoned vehicle on a public road, they will contact DVLA and work with them to find the owner. Meanwhile, they will put a 7-day notice on the window that they will remove the vehicle. If the owner has not come forward, the vehicle will be removed, depending on your council’s time frames and priorities.

If a vehicle has been dumped on private property, the council can take steps to find the owner, but they cannot directly remove the offending vehicle as easily as if it were left on a public road.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005′, will allow councils to issue fixed penalty notices of £200. They will send to the last registered owner of any vehicle they suspect has been abandoned. If this remains unpaid, they can go back to the previous owner, which is why it is so important that when you sell a car privately, you must make sure you see the buyer’s ID and address to send over to the DVLA with the logbook. The last thing anyone needs is to be held legally responsible for a car that could be a danger to others.

The law on abandoned vehicles

Anyone who has abandoned a vehicle, or parts of a vehicle on roads or land in the open air, can be prosecuted by authorities or issued a fixed penalty notice.

It’s the responsibility of local councils and national park authorities to remove abandoned vehicles from any open public road or open land. This also applies to private land and private roads.

Before the authorities can legally remove a vehicle, they must attempt to find the owner to give them the 7-day notice to collect it. Should the owner claim the vehicle and pay the removal and storage costs, the authorities must return it to the rightful owner.

Should the vehicle be dumped on private land, the authorities must give the landowner a 15-day notice that they intend to move it. The authorities will not be able to charge the landowner, but they could refuse to remove the vehicle from the land if costly equipment is required for the job of removal.