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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 14, 2001

Traffic camera violators insurance rates may rise

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

The state Senate Transportation chairman says traffic violators caught by the state's new photo enforcement system should pay higher insurance rates, and he'll fight any attempt to give them a break.

Earlier this week, Department of Transportation officials said they intend to ask legislators in January to change state law to treat the photo enforcement citations as parking tickets, and thus not become part of a driver's record, which are used by insurance companies to determine individual rates.

"People will be more afraid about getting a ticket if they know their insurance is going up," Sen. Cal Kawamoto said yesterday. "It's an important part of the law, and I'm not changing my mind about that. It's a safety issue. Drunken driving went down when people started worrying more about their insurance rates; this is the same thing."

The state says thousands of people may begin receiving citations as early as next week under the new program, which uses cameras and computers to nab speeders and red-light running drivers. Under existing law, the violations will become part of a driver's traffic abstract and are likely to lead to higher insurance for violators caught by the cameras

"The fairest way we have to rate people is on their history of how good they drive, and the best indicators of that are accidents and violations," said Tim Dayton, general manager for GEICO in Honolulu. "The photo citations should be treated the same as any other ticket."

Dayton said insurance companies need to be able to separate good drivers from bad ones.

"If we can't do that, everyone pays the same, and that's not fair to responsible drivers," he said. "I don't think anyone really wants that as a policy."