An interesting proposal for enforcing minimum auto insurance requirements comes to us from the UK. This could be exactly the sort of thing that state governments in the US would love to put in place. The UK government thinks they have stumbled upon a final solution to end uninsured driving.
The solution is simple. Nearly every gas station already has cameras. In order for fuel to be dispensed, the driver must allow their license plate to be viewed. A human will confirm that the tags belong on the vehicle and that there is a current, valid insurance policy associated with them. If so, fuel is dispensed. If not, no fuel for you! Suddenly, the end of uninsured driving!
[Please note, when we originally published this story, it involved attendants keeping track of uninsured driving, but no records. Now, the goal is to put automatic license plate readers in place and cross-reference them with records of who does and does not have insurance. If their DMV operates like ours, this has the potential for serious problems and innocent victims.]
This is not a cure-all to end uninsured driving. One of the concerns raised is that with high gas prices, especially in Europe, tempers are already short at filling stations. This raises concerns about potential altercations with employees if an uninsured motorist is unable to buy gas, on top of being frustrated by high fuel prices. Unlikely, we believe, but not outside the realm of possibility.
Staff are already getting stick [flack] from motorists for high fuel prices. This proposal will increase the potential for conflict. Our cashiers are not law enforcers.
Brian Madderson, RMI Petrol
Privacy is another concern, although there allegedly would be no records kept. We find this hard to believe since records would protect the monitoring agency from lawsuits over errors, to some degree.
Gas station attendants insist that they are not, nor do they want to be, law enforcement officers.
We also see the potential for a significant black market. Many, many people with insurance will be filling their lawnmower gas cans and adding a “convenience surcharge,” we expect… What are your thoughts on this? It’s possible that, under the program, uninsured drivers could get fuel but have their license plate logged. This conflicts with the earlier statement in the source article that no databases will be kept.
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