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Senate targets uninsured drivers

The good news is that our Lege is attempting to deal with the fact that as many as 26% of drivers in Texas are uninsured. The bad news is that they’ve picked a dumb way to do it.

[Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, author of Senate Bill 422] said the Texas Department of Transportation will send notices seeking proof of insurance to randomly selected drivers.

While the department is allowed to include in the sample a random selection of drivers with previous records of no insurance, it otherwise will not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of income, geography, sex, race or age, according to the bill.

Drivers receiving the notices must show within 30 days proof of coverage, which must be verified by the department. Those who falsify the “proof” could be fined between $500 and $1,000.

The penalty for driving without proof of liability will rise to between $350 and $500. It is currently between $175 and $350.

So, if I’m reading this correctly, I may some day get one of these notices, which will then require me to prove that I’m not uninsured. As someone who’s never been an uninsured motorist, I find that rather annoying. Why should I have to prove my innocence?

The solution that I’ve always favored for this problem is to tack a surcharge onto gasoline, which would then go into an uninsured motorists’ pool. Since all drivers buy gasoline, this would naturally force those with no insurance to cover some of their costs, which in turn would reduce the burden on the rest of us. I’d also require insurers to reduce auto rates by a commensurate amount, since they would draw from this pool of money to pay claims arising from damage caused by uninsured motorists. It’s less intrusive and ensures that everyone pays something. I’d also increase the penalties for driving while uninsured, and require proof of at least six months’ worth of coverage to dismiss a ticket for failing to produce proof of insurance at a traffic stop. Regardless of the merits of SB 422, I’m not sure why no one has proposed those reforms.

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  1. Ruth Wilkins says:

    My mother was just hit by an uninsured driver in Belton, Texas. The officer cited the other driver for not having insurance, however, allowed her to get back in her car and drive away. My mothers car is a total loss, but the driver who was not insured only had paint on her bumper. There should be some recourse that the honest citizens can take against the uninsured motorists and the city officials that allow them to get right back in the car and drive off.

  2. Phil says:

    Same here. I was hit by someone with no insurance in Texas and nothing is being done about it. His car was fine, mine wasn’t

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