Sizable number of Texas drivers without insurance

AUSTIN (AP) - A large number of drivers on Texas highways and roads do not have auto insurance, according to a Texas insurance organization.

A 60-day pilot project testing the new TexasSure program, which allows law enforcement personnel via computer to verify coverage status when they stop a motorist, focused on Travis County. During the test which is expected to end soon, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers stopped and ticketed uninsured drivers.

So far, 25.5 percent of 5,012 drivers stopped in Travis County and small portions of nearby Williamson and Hays counties since June 2, did not have auto insurance.

"The numbers show that Texas has an even larger number of uninsured drivers than we had realized," said Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, in a story Tuesday in the online editions of the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

The Council has been monitoring the state's new auto insurance verification program.

"Troopers tell us that some areas of the state may have more than half of their drivers uninsured, and that's scary news for everyone else on our roadways," Hanna said.

This spring, the minimum amount of liability insurance Texas drivers are required to have, increased for the first time in 22 years. Hanna said he didn't think the higher requirement was a factor in the lack of coverage because the effect on premiums was "minimal."

During the pilot project, drivers who said they were insured but weren't carrying proof of insurance weren't issued citations if troopers, using the new technology, validated their insurance coverage.

DPS plans to issue a report of its findings when the pilot is completed.

A portion of the vehicle registration fee is paying for a $7 million contract with HDI solutions Inc. The company, based in Alabama, developed the database of insurance customers and drivers' license records.

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