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Oklahoma proposes new camera system to check on uninsured motorists

November 30, 2009

Oklahoma proposes new camera system to check on uninsured motorists

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is looking at upgrading the
state’s electronic insurance verification system by setting up cameras
to randomly record vehicle tags. The proposed automated enforcement
would expand Oklahoma’s existing system, which went online in July. The
system now checks only Oklahoma registered vehicles and those checks are
only made when a vehicle owner has an encounter with a law enforcement
officer, such as a traffic stop or after being involved in an accident.
It has been estimated that nearly one in four Oklahoma motorists are
currently driving without vehicle insurance.

Under the proposals, cameras would be set up at about 200 locations
along selected highways, which would focus on a vehicle’s tag bar code –
found at the bottom of each tag – and record it. Bar code scanners would
match the tag numbers with a national database containing real-time
vehicle insurance information. Vehicle owners without valid insurance
would then be mailed a ticket. Motorists are required to buy Oklahoma’s
new vehicle tags, which include a bar code, and are all due to be
replaced by the end of this year.

“What we’re looking at really is only Oklahoma vehicles, but if the
company has the ability to do non-Oklahoma vehicles they should present
that in their information,” says David Beatty, project manager for
Oklahoma’s compulsory insurance verification system at the state Public
Safety Department. A law establishing the computerized system was passed
in 2006, but implementation delays occurred because it took longer than
expected to get the policy information from all insurance companies.
Police departments across the state can sign up to use the state’s
system, Beatty says. The insurance verification data is included in any
vehicle tag check. The new system could generate additional revenue for
the state, which is in the midst of a revenue shortfall. Tax revenue for
the state so far this fiscal year is about 22% below expectations.

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