A new statewide database system is set to help law enforcers catch uninsured drivers during routine traffic stops and inspections. The system, called TexasSure, can readily be accessed by any local officer or highway trooper to check on the insurance status of drivers pulled over.
Drivers found not to be uninsured can then issued a fine ranging upwards to $350 almost immediately.
State officials estimate that some 4 million Texas motorists do not carry insurance. That would amount to roughly 20 percent – or one out of every five – of the total number of drivers in the state. Worse, these suspected drivers do not even carry the minimum liability mandated by law.
The program was tested on a pilot period and came online only last October. Several cities have also expanded the penalties by impounding vehicles when drivers are caught without proper insurance documents.
Texas Department of State Safety Tom Vinger says that law enforcement and insurance companies have been awaiting such a program for a long time.
The database will be updated on a weekly basis to avoid wily drivers from buying insurance to renew car registration, and then dropping the policy the very next day.
Aside from Texas, more than 30 other states have similar programs to check drivers and their vehicles for insurance.
Melissa Burkhart of the Texas Department of Insurance admits that the program will not likely give immediate results. However, she asserts that with other states, there was a sharp decline in the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
For Carlos Rodriguez, the system is an important tool to avoid the pain he and his family went through when he was involved in a vehicle collision in 2006. The other driver was later found to be drunk and uninsured. Rodriguez survived the accident but the driver in the other car and his girlfriend were killed.
Rodriguez, 55, had to endure two surgeries and several months of painful physical therapy to learn to walk again.
Fortunately, Rodriguez’s wife took out an extra option which covered them in case the other driver involved is uninsured. Without it, Rodriguez says, the situation would have just added insult to injury. He would have paid tens of thousands of dollars in hospital and therapy bills if it were not for the extra coverage.