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Want to Protect People from Car Accidents? Require Larger Insurance Policies

In a New York Times article the other day, entitled "Safety Advocates Want Harsher Penalties for New York's Drivers," written by Emma G. Fitzsimmons, the paper questioned whether there was more to be done to protect pedestrians and motorists from dangerous drivers. The paper noted that very rarely are drivers that drive dangerously held criminally liable for their actions. The paper noted that even where a driver is speeding, causes an accident and kills someone, the driver will not be arrested. This is because New York State is loath to "criminalize" bad driving. The paper then pondered ways to fix this problem. The paper offered that lowering the bar to make such bad drivers criminally responsible might now be necessary and could help deter people from driving recklessly in the future. The paper also offered as a solution educating the public so that they realize that driving fast or carelessly just doesn't put them at risk but everyone at risk. But I think the paper misses one important point to this story. Yes, it's clear that bad drivers should be held criminally responsible. They should be held responsible for their actions. I think that goes without saying. But, honestly, being held criminally responsible won't get your mom or dad back if they were killed by some reckless driver. And bringing criminal charges won't help the family who just lost their bread winner. What are we doing to help these people pay the bills? Yes, there are personal injury attorneys who can sue the driver. But, in New York, drivers are only required to obtain liability insurance worth $25,000. That means if you cause an accident and seriously injure somebody, your insurance company will only pay the family of the injured person $25,000. If the person is killed, the statutory minimum paid to the family will be $50,000. That barely will pay the funeral costs. To me, that's the biggest problem right now. New York car insurance policies are too small to take care of the families who have been devastated by careless drivers. New York needs to raise the insurance limits people are required to have when they drive. The $25,000 limit is a joke and pays for nothing. That's not even enough to cover a herniated disc, let alone a broken bone with surgery. And $50,000 for the death of someone - that's so little its pathetic. And, it seems, at least in my experience, the worst drivers are always the drivers with the limited insurance policies. So, in sum, if we cannot prevent car accidents from happening, at least let's ensure that bad drivers have big enough policies so that when they do cause injuries, the families of those injured will be taken care of.

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