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We all know that uninsured drivers are huge problem and increase insurance costs for the millions of law abiding Americans who do pay for insurance, but what are we doing to solve the problem? Sure drivers can be ticketed, fined, and even have their vehicle impounded in some states, but is there a better solution available? According to officials in the UK there is, and it will likely be rolling out soon.

The UK is planning to start rolling out CCTV devices that would prevent cars without insurance and valid registration from filling up with gas. While I am not completely sure how I feel about this idea, but I can certainly see the value of such a system in curbing the number of uninsured motorists.

The technology is rather simple and would capture a vehicle’s license plate and cross reference it with insurance and registration databases. The process would only take a few seconds and after successful verification the pump would engage, but for those who are uninsured “No gas for you!”

In the U.S. about one in every seven motorists are uninsured. This number dwarfs the UK statistics where only an estimated 4% of drivers are uninsured. Mississippi tops the charts with 28% of drivers being uninsured, with Maine coming in a close second. New Mexico leads the rest of the pack at 26% along with Florida, Tennessee, and Oklahoma all weighing in at 24%. See a USA Today story from last year here.

Each year thousands are injured in accidents where an uninsured motorist is at fault. Some of these claims end up costing insurers tens of thousands of dollars and those expenses are passed on to us through increased premiums.

The National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC) estimates that uninsured drivers cost $10.8billion dollars, based on 2007 data. You can see how much it costs you in the “uninsured motorist coverage” section of your premium notice. It might surprise you.

While I am not completely convinced that this type of intrusion is the best way to address the situation, something must be done. The fact is that current laws in most states have proven to be ineffective at reducing the number of uninsured drivers. Some drivers legitimately cannot afford insurance but my guess is that far more make a conscious decision to be uninsured and don’t care that the rest of are paying heavily for it.

What do you think? Would a similar plan be a good idea for the U.S. to adopt?

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Truckie D

    Interesting post Scott.

    This is *way* too Big Brother for me. George Orwell is probably turning over in his grave for this one.

    I can see a few problems with this idea though.

    What's to prevent filling up a gas can (ostensibly for your lawn mower) and then putting it in your (unregistered and uninsured) car?

    How about taking a picture of your neighbor's (valid and insured) registration, printing it out, and sticking it over yours when you go to fill up?

    Possibly even asking the guy next to you to hand you the nozzle when he's done, and you pay him the cash?

    What about when the system goes down? (and it will go down)

    But, wait a second -- why stop there? How about requiring every car be fitted with a transponder that checks for validity, and if invalid, automatically locks out the ignition.

    We could require flashing lights on it too, so that if you exceed the speed limit, the lights start flashing, and it automatically generates a speeding ticket and emails it to you.

    What the heck; let's go the whole hog and require that everybody wear a camera and microphone 24/7 just to make sure that nobody is breaking the law.

    But then, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.


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