PEARL, Miss. (WLBT) – People driving through the city of Pearl may soon receive a citation from the police department if they are uninsured.
It comes as part of an initiative the city launched Friday, and one that has proved to be controversial in other areas of the state.
The state of Mississippi leads the country with an estimated 29.4% of uninsured drivers, according to the Insurance Research Council.
A new initiative by the city of Pearl aims to reduce that number by utilizing existing traffic cameras to verify if a vehicle is insured, thanks to a partnership with Securix Mississippi.
So far, people throughout the Jackson metro have mixed opinions.
“I think everybody ought to have insurance. It’s the law to have it. If you find someone that doesn’t, then they should get reported for not having it,” Brandon resident Lynn Starnes said.
“I think they really should reconsider before they do this because a lot of people are doing the best they can in today’s economy, and maybe they should come up with a law where people can afford car insurance more,” said Monika Lasheur, who drives through Pearl daily.
The city of Ocean Springs ended its agreement with Securix in May after numerous complaints from residents and threats of legal action.
Much of the controversy came from people who were ticketed by mistake.
“That is a concern. That actually happened to me once,” Jackson resident Jasmine Roberson said. “I had to pay for it and go back to court, and they had to reimburse me. It was a hassle.”
The city of Pearl seems to have already acknowledged that mistakes may happen because officials say someone who receives a citation can:
1) Provide proof the vehicle had insurance on the date the citation was issued in order to have it voided by the police department.
2) Agree to an online driving course and commit to getting insurance in order to keep the citation off driving record, prevent license suspension, and reduce fine.
3) Challenge the citation in court.
3 On Your Side wanted to ask Mayor Jake Windham how much the city expects to make from the new initiative and for his thoughts on the controversy in other parts of the state. Mayor Windham would only release the statement below despite making time for an interview with another outlet.
Securix Mississippi approached the city with a proposal to implement an uninsured motorist program utilizing our existing tag reader cameras located throughout our city. Presently, Senatobia is utilizing this program anticipating several others to join in the near future. The Board of Aldermen and I believe this initiative can be beneficial for Pearl as step towards easing the financial burden on our citizens.
The program focuses on enforcing existing state insurance law by utilizing a select number of our tag reader cameras strategically placed at major intersections throughout Pearl. The intention behind this initiative is to contribute to the reduction of vehicle insurance costs for our residents. By leveraging technology, we aim to enhance the efficiency of law enforcement efforts while also promoting road safety.
It is important to note that this program is designed to be a proactive measure, where a limited number of cameras will be employed, targeting major intersections to ensure a focused approach. We want to emphasize that this initiative is not directed at our residents as it will impact anyone who travels through the monitored intersections within our city.
Furthermore, I want to assure our residents that all citations issued through this program will be reviewed for accuracy by the Pearl Police Department. We understand the significance of accuracy in such matters, and the Police Department is committed to upholding the highest standards in this regard.
Ultimately, our objective is to assist our citizen rate payers by potentially mitigating the high costs associated with vehicle insurance. Additionally, we hope that this initiative will contribute to a reduction in the number of tickets issued, fostering a safer and more responsible driving within the City.
Officials with the city were unable to say when the first round of citations will hit residents’ mailbox. However, the initiative began on December 1st.
State lawmakers banned the use of red-light cameras more than a decade ago after residents raised concerns about the lack of due process.
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Based in New York, Stephen Freeman is a Senior Editor at Trending Insurance News. Previously he has worked for Forbes and The Huffington Post. Steven is a graduate of Risk Management at the University of New York.