PA Governor Proposes Highway Cameras to Identify Uninsured Drivers

Drivers in Pennsylvania are required to carry automobile insurance. Unquestionably, this is important to protect the interests of drivers and passengers on the roads. Insurance coverage ensures that when an individual is responsible for a car accident, those harmed by the accident are not forced to deal with the financial consequences alone.

However, a recent proposal by Gov. Ed Rendell has many questioning how far the state should go to enforce this law.

In an effort to combat budget shortfalls, Gov. Rendell has suggested using cameras to catch those who are driving without insurance. These cameras would be mounted on the sides of the roads or on overhead signs, and would photograph the license plates of vehicles.

These license plates would then be compared to a database containing insurance information. Anyone without current insurance would be sent notification and required to pay a fine.

According to the Insurance Journal, Gov. Rendell expects that such a system could generate as much as $115 million annually. These funds would be used to support hundreds of transportation projects, including road and bridge construction and maintenance.

In addition to generating revenues for Pennsylvania, these cameras would clearly encourage drivers to maintain insurance — though this seems only an incidental benefit to the proposal, rather than a primary purpose.

Understandably, this proposal has raised significant concerns. As a representative from the ACLU of Pennsylvania told The Patriot-News, “[w]e’re always skeptical when the government sets up yet another system of monitoring people who have done nothing wrong.”

Once this information is collected, there is little guarantee that its usage will be limited to this purpose. It does not require any great stretch of imagination to recognize that this other state agencies or government officials might find this information valuable and seek to use it, as well.

From a practical standpoint, some in the insurance industry have raised concerns about the logistical feasibility of this proposal. Maintaining accurate, up-to-date information regarding policy holders on such an enormous scale will likely prove difficult.

Currently this proposal is in its earliest stages. Gov. Rendell has suggested the idea, but it has not advanced significantly. Accordingly, now is the time for Pennsylvania residents to speak out. Contact your state senators and representatives today to make your opinions on this proposal known.