Drivers in Oklahoma are now beginning to see the effects of a new law implemented starting November 1st, which limits the amount uninsured drivers can recover in most accidents. The state already mandates that drivers have auto insurance coverage, and those in compliance will not be directly affected unless in an accident involving an uninsured driver.
Reasons for the Change
Supporters of the new law hope the change will encourage some previously uninsured drivers to re-think their position and secure policies. In significant numbers, uninsured drivers may increase the premium costs paid by complying drivers, since they have no insurance to help defray the cost of accidents in which they are involved. Greater policy enrollment, therefore, may reduce car insurance rates statewide if uninsured drivers do decide to secure coverage. A number of other states have similar laws.
Effects on Uninsured and Complying Drivers
Drivers caught in an accident they did not cause can still recover medical care and property damage costs, as well as income loss caused by the accident. Uninsured drivers will be unable to collect “pain and suffering” damages from now on, except in special cases. If the accident was caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for example, they may be able to do so.
Supporters of the law believe this will encourage uninsured drivers, who make up an estimated 25 percent of Oklahoma motorists according to Farmers Insurance, to secure liability coverage for their own vehicles. This would improve compliance with mandatory auto insurance requirements and reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the state.
Oklahoma Driving Law Changes
Another measure took effect in the state at the same time, imposing tougher penalties for driving under the influence. This bill, which proponents say will save lives, passed the state legislature with a strong majority and requires the installation of an interlocking ignition device in vehicles belonging to those convicted of driving under the influence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state such devices may reduce repeat offenses by two-thirds and fatalities by 30 percent.
Such a device will be installed for 18 months if a driver is convicted with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher. Subsequent convictions may result in the device being installed for up to five years, and driver’s licenses will be marked.