A recent Vicad article discusses two Victoria City Council members proposal for a plan to impound the vehicles of uninsured drivers. However, they want to determine the success (or failure) of such legislation in other cities before approving this law.
Well, Im going to play the devils advocate today. Its been a while since Ive stirred the congealing pot of cheese that is this blog.
Now, Im going to assume that those who are driving without proper coverage are doing so because they cant afford to pay the exorbitant premiums. Many of these drivers are probably indigent by government standards. Heck, Im not indigent by government standards, and I can barely afford insurance!
Besides a lack of money, is there really any other reason people would drive without insurance? I dont know of anyone who chooses to drive without coverage just because he or she likes living on the edge. I am certain that money is the issue in 9 out of 10 cases.
The article states that out of the 11,600-plus tickets issued from 2003 to 2005 in the Victoria area, 55% of them were issued to drivers who were not subsequently able to provide proof of insurance. In other words, over 6,300 vehicles would have been impounded if this proposed plan had been approved during this time period.
Under the proposed law, after these peoples cars are impounded, they will face further financial difficulties as they cannot get to their places of employment to make the money to pay for the fines and the new insurance.
Assuming perpetrators cant afford to get their cars out of the impound yard, where can we expect the city to put all of these vehicles? Since Victoria doesnt have enough space for several thousand impounded cars, the citizens will have to pay for the construction of such a space via increased taxes.
Additionally, I have to ask this question: Who sets the dollar amounts for traffic fines?
Using the City of Austin as an example, we can observe that tickets for not having proof of insurance cost more than tickets for other, more serious offenses. For instance, an allegedly uninsured driver will pay a fine of $328, whereas a driver who has a child in the open bed of a truck pays only $178, and a driver who has an unsecured child (one whos not wearing a seat belt and is crawling around on the dashboard of Mommys SUV) pays only $235.
Why? Is it because the state doesnt benefit from the sale of children as it benefits from the sale of insurance?
Moreover, insurance companies penalize those who havent had previous coverage by charging them higher premiums. Many drivers may also have credit problems, which also add to the cost of the premiums.
One may be inclined to posit that those who can afford insurance and are concerned about the number of uninsured motorists on the road should be able to afford to pay the extra money for the optional uninsured motorist coverage.
Its probably true that the large number of uninsured motorists on the road causes insurance premiums to increase across the board. But here we have one of Joseph Hellers infamous Catch-22s. If the premiums keep rising because of uninsured drivers, then the uninsured drivers themselves will continue to lack the funds to purchase said insurance.
Lets work on fixing the problem instead of simply putting a Band-Aid on it. If the government is going to require every driver to have insurance, then the government needs to ensure that the indigent can afford to adhere to this law. If there are already such programs in place, theyre not widely publicized, and I would like to know about them.
We can solve the uninsured motorist dilemma by helping each other instead of punishing those who have already been burdened financially and otherwise. I suggest that lawmakers get at the root of the problem before they proceed to merely treat the symptoms of the problem, which is not going to go away with the impounding of vehicles.
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