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The Costs of Uninsured Drivers

May 09, 1993

The story about the fatal accident involving the California Highway Patrol officer and the unlicensed, uninsured driver made me see red ("Man Faces Misdemeanor in Officer's Death," April 27).

It is so frustrating to know that a large percentage of drivers on the road today are uninsured. In the last three years, we've had the unfortunate experience of meeting three of them. My husband was hit twice by uninsured drivers. Both times his car was unrepairable. Both times, the accidents were the uninsured drivers' fault.

Of course, we had to pay the deductible and our insurance company had to pay the car rental and reimburse us for the destroyed cars. Our insurance company also had to bear the expense of legal fees to try to collect from the uninsured drivers, which rarely happens.

My son was involved in a minor accident with our third uninsured driver. I was shocked to find out this uninsured driver has the same rights as a person who pays thousands of dollars a year for insurance. This person got a lawyer--you know what kind--and sued for car rental, car repairs and invisible injuries. I can't even count the expense to us in lost work hours, paperwork and phone calls, not to mention the stress and anger our family has experienced.

I don't understand why the laws aren't changed to protect and reward the people who have insurance. I have some ideas. Uninsured drivers should not be allowed to have any legal recourse, even when the accident is not their fault. They should not be able to collect for car repairs or injuries. If they couldn't get their car repaired, there would be fewer uninsured cars on the road for future accidents.

Drunk-driver checkpoints have proved to be effective. Start insurance checkpoints and impound any cars that are uninsured and keep them until the owners pay storage and prove they have insurance. All unclaimed cars within a reasonable period of time could be auctioned to help pay for the checkpoints.

Sure, this could still cost us, but I'm sure a majority of the responsible citizens would be willing to bear some of the costs or start a voluntary organization to man these checkpoints or raise funds. The car insurance companies would probably be interested in this project, too.

If laws could prevent uninsured drivers from being on the road, all three of our accidents would never have happened, and the CHP officer would still be alive. I'm sure his family is thinking the same way, and my heart goes out to them. Our experiences seem minor now.



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