Effort to detect uninsured drivers already showing results
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) - An effort to detect uninsured drivers on Oklahoma's highways is already showing some results.
Four unmarked SUVs and a trailer are being used to photograph license plates on cars all over the state.
They can capture up to 450 images an hour that are then compared to the state's insurance database.
Drivers who don't have policies will be sent a notice telling them to pay a $174 fee and get insurance.
The effort is being carried out by the Oklahoma Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion Program, and it is sponsored by the Oklahoma District Attorney's Council.
Amanda Couch is working on the program for the council.
She said they've been on the road since mid-November and already have 1,000 letters that will be sent out to uninsured drivers.
She expects them to be in the mail before the first of the year, but publicity about the effort is already making an impact on the uninsured.
At A-Affordable Insurance on 16th and Harvard, they're getting a lot of walk-in traffic from customers who want to avoid any trouble.
They specialize in low-cost policies and Les Lieurance said they can make people legal for as little as $40 a month.
Unfortunately, some of them want help after the fact.
"They'll say, well I didn't pay my insurance and I had a wreck. Can you back date it? No, we can't ever back date your insurance! The important thing is keep it up to date and you won't have those kinds of problems."
The mobile camera units and a roadside trailer will be used to identify the parts of the state with the most offenders. Fixed cameras will then be added in those areas.
Insurance man Ed Martinez, of Ed Martinez State Farm, said he is fully in favor the process.
He's been hit by five uninsured drivers during his 24-years in Tulsa.
Martinez said, "I think this camera thing takes out the human, takes out law enforcement of it. You pass by that camera and your insurance isn't in force, you're gonna get a ticket, and it’s a pretty hefty ticket."
The amount of the penalty fee would pay for several months’ worth of insurance.
Both Martinez and Lieurance agree that a bad accident will be far more expensive than the premiums.
Lieurance said, "We have a lot of them come in and say, 'I hate insurance; why do I have insurance?' You try to explain to them it's part of being a responsible adult in the state."
People who pay their penalty fees and keep their insurance for a year will have "driving without insurance" removed from their records.