Smart SpendingSmart Spending

No insurance? No petrol for you

License plate recognition cameras in British gas stations may be repurposed to prevent those without car insurance from filling up.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 15, 2012 6:01PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site on MSN MoneyThe British government is considering a plan to prevent uninsured drivers from refueling their cars.


Image: Man filling up car with gas while on cell phone (© moodboard/Corbis)Thousands of license plate recognition cameras, put in place to keep drivers from leaving gas stations without paying, would be repurposed to cross-check plates against the government's tax and insurance records. Without a match for both in the database, the pump would not operate.


The government decided to make the novel use of its omnipresent closed-circuit television cameras after a presentation from accounting firm Ernst & Young, which would help implement the new system. (Post continues below.)

"The key to this is simplicity. Connecting the existing technology . . . is relatively inexpensive and wouldn't be a big information technology program," Ernst & Young partner Graeme Swan told The Telegraph. "There shouldn't be concerns about 'Big Brother' because there is no new database, no vehicles are tracked and no record is kept. It's simply a new rule of no insurance equals no fuel."


About 4% of British motorists are uninsured, compared with 13.8% of U.S. drivers. Vehicles with no insurance records are seized. The Motor Insurers' Bureau says about 1,500 cars are hauled away each week -- and 40% of them are never reclaimed.


As in the United Kingdom, liability insurance or some kind of financial responsibility bond is required in most states. Only New Hampshire does not have such a requirement (though Virginia and South Carolina offer a unique workaround). Enforcement methods are left to states, and they can vary widely. Some law-enforcement organizations use automated license plate recognition technology to check for insurance from their squad cars; in other areas, a driver may be asked to produce an insurance card on demand during a traffic stop. (See "Do you look like you have insurance?")


Some British petrol retailers said the proposals were a "step too far."


Brian Madderson, from RMI Petrol, which represents independent petrol stations, told The Mirror: "This proposal will increase the potential for conflict. Our cashiers are not law enforcers."


If it all seems a bit Big Brother-ish to the Brits, they can take off for a relaxing day in France. They just have to remember to bring a portable blood-alcohol testing kit -- mandatory equipment in every car on French roads beginning July 1.


More on and MSN Money:

Mar 16, 2012 3:25PM

And since this technology has actually been around alot longer than what the article states, why hasn't the Congress of the USA make OUR government install this same technology into the welfare, medicaid and medicare systems to quickly recognize the fraud and theft and waste that these systems have.  But they won't...because OUR government is a self-serving entity.  It's their way of stopping a revolution.  If the government couldn't tax the hell out of the upper middle class to take care of the 46% of America that's hurting so bad, the people of this country would rise up and truely say enough is enough.

Mar 16, 2012 12:13PM
Why not pass a law requiring the insurance company to notify the state within 48 hours of the expiration or cancellation of insurance. Then the state locate and impound the vehicle.  
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.