The Oklahoma House of Representatives Media Services Division reported a bill that would allow law enforcement officials to instantly determine if a car is insured has cleared the House by a vote of 74-26.
House Bill 1351, by Rep. John Wright, would require insurance policies to include the vehicle identification number of the vehicle or vehicles covered by a policy for use in a state database.
Wright, a Broken Arrow Republican, said that database would then allow law enforcement officials to instantly check a vehicle’s insurance status every time a car is pulled over.
“This bill creates a mechanism for roadside accountability that allows an officer to determine whether or not a vehicle is insured,” Wright said.
Wright predicted the bill could lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of uninsured motorists in Oklahoma, which some officials believe may account for nearly 30 percent of vehicles on the road.
Although Oklahoma drivers must offer proof of insurance at the time of registration, many cancel that coverage shortly after obtaining insurance. HB 1351 directs the state Department of Public Safety to establish a secure Web site maintaining a directory of vehicle identification numbers that will be accessible to insurance carriers and law enforcement for verification of coverage.
Supporters note a similar law has been in place in Utah since 1995, which caused the rate of uninsured motorists to fall from 23 percent to 9 percent in that state.
House staff estimated HB 1351 would cost $51,000 to implement.
Wright said the bill’s passage is an important first step in reducing the number of uninsured motorists in Oklahoma and eliminating their impact on the state’s automobile insurance market.
“The fact is we have a large number of citizens driving without automobile insurance in Oklahoma and those drivers wreak havoc with our insurance system,” Wright said. “If you’re hit by somebody that doesn’t have insurance it exposes you to an array of unique problems and those carrying insurance pay much higher premiums as a result. This bill could eventually bring our rates down by increasing the number of people obtaining coverage.”
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