Your editorial “Take care with cameras” states, “$200 citations, many of them will be sent to working-class folks ... too poor to pay the insurance premiums.” This seems to suggest that those who have insurance should be OK with what is essentially another welfare system for those you describe.
Do you really mean to suggest that law-abiding citizens should pay higher insurance rates to help out that significant portion of the population that is currently “permitted” to break the law and drive without insurance?
New Orleans, by the way, has the second-highest automobile insurance premiums in the U.S., according to propertycasualty.com. Baton Rouge is ranked fifth. This is in part due to the large percentage of uninsured motorists.
Ever since the Crescent City Connection “tag” system was installed, I have wondered why a similar system hasn’t been used to enforce the law that requires all vehicle owners to have insurance.
It seems reasonable to require the insurance companies to issue tags or decals to vehicle owners and provide the relevant information electronically to the state. Cameras then could be placed at locations that would cover the population in a statistically representative manner to avoid any charges of targeting or profiling. Perhaps such a system could be tested in New Orleans using the traffic cameras currently installed.
If the software necessary isn’t already available at a reasonable rate, I expect that a computer science faculty member could write a program inexpensively. If New Orleans were to be used as the test city, we already have a group dedicated to reviewing the traffic camera results. Reviewing the results of the insurance tags or decals could be added to their responsibilities.
If a private firm were to be contracted with, I am confident that extensive safeguards could be put in place, even to the point of having all employees sign privacy agreements with stringent penalties.
The concerns about the private firm making a profit seem misplaced. Many governmental responsibilities are subcontracted to private firms — all of whom have profit objectives. Just one example: The University of New Orleans subcontracts food services, janitorial services and the bookstore to private firms. Such subcontracting typically provides excellent services and saves the state money. Thus, private firms are employed by many, perhaps most, government organizations in the state.
Another issue that you bring up is collecting the $200 citations. DMV.org states that those driving without insurance are subject to having their cars impounded. Thus, couldn’t the officers in charge simply send a tow truck to impound the offending vehicle if the citation is not paid, or if arrangements to pay it over time are not made, within a reasonable time?
Isn’t it time to start enforcing this law?