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Illegal Drivers Spark Tax Plan

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas Insurance Brokers Association wants the government to institute either a payroll or gasoline tax to fund the establishment and operation of an agency to provide compensation to victims of accidents caused by uninsured and untraced drivers.

The Motorist Victims Compensation Agency – a proposed legal institution - the BIBA said, would be funded by this broad-based tax, which is projected to raise $1m per month. It also suggested another means of funding this new institution could be through auctioning seized vehicles. This funding mechanism, BIBA said, must be through involuntary contribution by all adults and will not be retroactive.

According to the association, very alarming estimates suggest at any one time 30 per cent to 40 per cent of vehicles on the streets of New Providence are uninsured and in many instances these drivers flee the scene of an accident.

Coupled with a troubling number of traffic fatalities, 22 already for the year -  according to Transport and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell -  the roadways are an issue of concern for officials.

In response to this, BIBA has made more than a dozen recommendations, including passing continuous motor insurance enforcement legislation among other things.

Asked about these suggestions, Mr Campbell would not comment directly saying he was not intimately aware of the recommendations. He explained that this was not a reflection of those agencies under the Ministry of Transport’s umbrella. However he said he was sure the government would be in support of any entity, which could contribute to finding a resolution for these kinds of issues.

The concept is for the mechanism to mirror that of the Motor Insurers Bureau in the United Kingdom, a private company funded through motor insurance premiums paid by all law-abiding motorists. MIB works alongside the police to remove unlicenced vehicles from the road among other things.

“As it relates to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Bahamas Insurance Brokers Association believes that the time has passed for the Bahamas to implement a similar model,” the association said in a press statement to The Tribune.

“There is a critical need to address this most egregious deficiency in our social responsibility. BIBA is dedicated to keeping this issue at the forefront of our legislators. As we feel the matter is too important to be left unaddressed until another incident happens.

“Many of these (uninsured) vehicles are involved in collisions on our roads every year and have resulted in life-altering experiences for the injured victims and their families,” the press statement also said.

“These victims not only suffer loss or damage to their property, they also experience loss of income, and have to bear huge financial burdens for medical treatments and rehabilitation and in many cases, these injuries lead to temporary or permanent disability, disfigurement or even death, leaving families with funeral costs and formidable future living expenses.

“Unfortunately, in the Bahamas we do not have stringent laws and penalties that will discourage vehicle owners from driving uninsured vehicles, or allowing unauthorised persons to drive, especially those without a valid driver’s licence. Many of these motorists flee the scene of an accident, resulting in the accident being declared a hit-and-run. Even when the at-fault party does remain at the scene of the accident, the end result does not differ much for the injured victims and their families, despite criminal proceedings in such a situation.”

BIBA said the new framework would also include strict enforcement of penalties upon perpetrators and will work in conjunction with the Road Traffic Department and insurance companies via shared information on insurance coverage and valid driver’s licence.

In addition, the BIBA suggested the agency be staffed by contracted retirees from various disciplines such as insurance, police, road traffic, health care and clergy.

The proposed agency would also be guided by a set of rules determining how victims of uninsured and untraced motorists should be compensated.

The agency’s existence, BIBA said, will neither absolve the perpetrator nor the insurer of ultimate responsibility for their legal liability, settlement of claims, and court ordered judgments and the victim’s compensation will only be set in motion when there are no other sources to claim, it will be the avenue of last resort.

It is also proposed there be monthly publication of disqualified drivers in the local newspaper and online and provision of hotline telephone numbers to give authorities tips on those committing an infraction.

Comments

ohdrap4 2 years, 2 months ago

if you drive a car i'll tax the street if you take a walk i'll tax your feet.

Stop the madness, insurance leeches. there is only so much tax one can take.

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Dawes 2 years, 2 months ago

Just have the police linked into the insurance companies. This way if a police officer runs a plate and it comes back uninsured they take the car. Same as if the driver is unlicensed. The owner will then have 30 days to provide evidence that the car or driver is licensed, if not it is either sold or crushed. Also have that a person is unable to cancel his car insurance unless they can provide evidence of the car being sold or other insurance being taken out. If enforced it shouldn't take too long to bring compliance up to 90+%. Though as it needs to be enforced doubt it will happen, easier to continue to make it more expensive for us schmucks who abide by the system.

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BahamaRed 2 years, 2 months ago

Agreed Dawes

They need a computer based system that keeps up to date info on plates and licenses. So if a police officer runs a plate they can tell if the car is properly licensed and insured. They can also tell if the car has been reported stolen or has any outstanding traffic violations by merely inputting the plate number into the system.

The same system can also be used for drivers licenses. Once your name and date of birth is ran an officer can tell if you are legally allowed to be on the road. A combination of both checks if used correctly would eliminate a lot of persons and cars being on the road illegally.

Honestly I sometimes think the Bahamas likes illegal and dishonest activity. Cause it's 2018, why aren't half these things implemented already.

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 2 months ago

So the police refuse to police and we should pay a tax?????

No.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 2 months ago

My sentiments exactly ........ Road checks give 48 hours to produce D/R and insurance and proof of ownership of vehicle ........ OR fine the delinquents or begin to take away driving privileges or garnish wages or impound vehicles for public auction ....... Bahamians have to realize that driving is a privilege and not a right ................. But taxing the innocent for the guilty is unconscionable.

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Telllikeitis 2 years, 2 months ago

The real solution could lie in the government increasing the penalty for driving without a license and/or insurance to a point that makes it punitive as well as instituting serious punishments for vehicular homicide and/or leaving the scene of an accident.

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DDK 2 years, 2 months ago

“Unfortunately, in the Bahamas we do not have stringent laws and penalties that will discourage vehicle owners from driving uninsured vehicles, or allowing unauthorised persons to drive, especially those without a valid driver’s licence." Better policing, and enforcing of current laws would go a long way to solving the problem. If the fines and penalties need to be higher, increase them and enforce them!! We are back to the problem of both poor policing and slack judicial system. Dare I say the education level of our RBPF could play a part in the whole mess?

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

The govt knows some $200,000,000. Thats 200 million or some 5 to 10 % of GDP revenue IS LOST TO CORRUPTION EAVH YEAR

Thats a lot of white collar crime there and if one were to look at crime reports usually has mostlly murders, purse snatchings shoplifting etc...white collar crime seems non existant because some Bahamians friends, family lovers etc choose to protect white collar criminals.

$200 million a year can go to hire police, law enforcement etc with the effective, expeditious carrying out of existing laws and getting justice for the victims....and renovating PMH.....kudos to Roc wic Doc for platform on fighting corruption. FIGHT CORRUPTION.

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 2 months ago

Just one more cost for Bahamians to endure for "cheap" Haitain labour. Cheap. Really cheap. LOL

Of course, if police can't arrest them for violating something as minor as the Flag Law (by flying a single flag on their car) - they surely can't bother them with something that can't be seen in the glove compartment.

The only solution now is for Bahamians to hand over their car, house, all belongings to the Haitians and commit suicide. The battle is lost.

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

@ MadHatter.....well dats also not finding any employer wealthy enough to able to hire dem ...guilty of hiring illegals....not finding any homeowner landlord wealthy enough to rent to illegals....not findong any trafficker guilt.....why OMG how many fined so far ....????...all these people wealthy enough.....but somehow dey so smart not to get caught an charged.....its seems a darnest ting if youse smart you can never dont do no wrong....dats why $ 200 million a year in corruption....

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sealice 2 years, 2 months ago

No to increasing our costs - change the road traffic laws and enforce them take away peoples licenses throw their arsses in Jail take away their cars - let them be stigmatized like the people rising public transportation....

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY'S CONTEMPT FOR THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE. RATHER THAN PRESS GOVERNMENT TO ENFORCE EXISTING LAWS, THESE CONTEMPTIBLE INSURERS AND THE BANKS THAT MAKE VEHICLE LOANS WOULD RATHER PRESS GOVERNMENT TO TAX US FOR THE BENEFIT OF THEIR OWN PROFITS. A MUCH BETTER IDEA WOULD BE TO DO AWAY WITH THE EXISTING MANDATORY THIRD PARTY LOSS INSURANCE REQUIREMENT, ESPECIALLY SINCE WE NOW ALL KNOW IT IS ESSENTIALLY WORTHLESS BECAUSE SO FEW PEOPLE CAN AFFORD VEHICLE INSURANCE. WHY ON EARTH SHOULD INSURERS AND BANKS GET A HANDOUT AT THE EXPENSE OF TAXPAYERS?! AS THE SAYING GOES: IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM (I.E. THE UNINSURED), THEN YOU MAY AS WELL JOIN THEM! FOR THOSE DRIVERS WHO DO NOT WISH TO BE UNINSURED, INSURERS CAN CHARGE THEM AN ADDITIONAL PREMIUM TO COVER THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH UNINSURED MOTORISTS. AND WHY SHOULD ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT DRIVE A VEHICLE HAVE TO PAY A NEW GASOLINE OR PAYROLL TAX?! WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE ALREADY OVERBURDENED BY TAXES AND FEES!!

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 2 months ago

The real solution is getting the police to do their job. No one in this country fears police when they drive. No license? No problem. Aint like you'll be pulled over for anything anyway. Drunk? So get in your car and drive home, who ga stop you? No lights on your car? So? Aint like anyone will pull you over. No seatbelt? No problem, police aint checking. Jitney drivers know there's no such thing as police controlling traffic that's why a jitney can drive west on Bay Street at 3pm in the afternoon. That's why a jitney can drive on a sidewalk to avoid traffic. Big rig drivers know they can do 80 in their trucks with no problem from police.

And we have to pay a tax because of apathetic policing?!? Bahamians better damned well stand up and fight this taxation wave. If they tax us the apathetic policing will continue and in a few years they'll hit with us more taxes again.

Stop being suckers Bahamas...

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Chucky 2 years, 2 months ago

Notice all the news coverage of road accidents this year already, guess we now know the reason. The news articles were used as a lead up to another tax / opportunity to make / save money for insurance companies.

In other jurisdiction, the insurance companies just offer and add on to insurance : "under insured motorist protection". I type it into google, in BC Canada it costs $12.00 per year to buy this additional coverage to protect yourself from underinsured motorists. Seems a much more logical approach than a whole new bureaucracy.....

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The_Oracle 2 years, 2 months ago

Stupidest Idea i've heard yet, which basically is trying to cover societal negligence by fiat and tax. It will not do a damn thing to correct the wrongs which have been increasing in this country since Majority rule and independence.

"“There is a critical need to address this most egregious deficiency in our social responsibility."" This statement acknowledges societal and Governmental structural failure, but you cannot tax or legislate to restore it. Penalties and due process of existing law can over time.

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

Good idea Chucky....it just seems yhey dont want to do so ...bearing in mind more paying ones may also run away... Attention is needed for the victims. We are a society where there is some 200 million dollars annually of corruption in which mostly the poor suffer from it and amazingly very little white collar crime.

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BahamaRed 2 years, 2 months ago

Chucky a few insurance companies offer the add-on to protect from uninsured motorists. I got it because I know more than 60 percent of the people on the road are either uninsured, unlicensed, or both. You've got to protect your investment.

And the system needs to be updated. The fines and penalties for infractions increased and upheld when given out. And the law needs to be properly enforced by the people being paid to do so.

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Truism 2 years, 2 months ago

Where did this $200m in additional cost as a result of corruption come from? Think I'll go do my stew fish while I wait for a credible answer. LMAO

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

See todays Nassau Guardian Tuesday, April 17, 2018 front page article 'PM: $200m lost a year to corruption by Travis Cartwright-Carroll Guardian Senior Reporter "Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the Bahamas loses over $200 million a year due to corruption."

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 2 months ago

it is nothing but more taxes for poor people. No doubt the peoples time government will put this in place. The rich will get richer and the poor who cares. but God.

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

further.... " In a recent report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) explained that The Bahamas incurs a cost of 4.7 percent of gross domestic prodict (GDP) because of crime, and ranks third among 17 countries in the region in relation to the cost of crime, behind Honduras and El Salvador, " where crime is revognizably widespread." The IMF said the Bahamas incurs the highest crime related costs eithin the Caribbean."

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Sickened 2 years, 2 months ago

At the scene of a crash if the driver cannot produce proof of insurance coverage they are held by the police until coverage is produced (drive the person by the house if they have too 'get a copy'). If the driver/car is not covered at the time of the accident then the person is arrested and fined and automatically held responsible for repairing the other person's car and medical bills, if any, because they shouldn't have been on the road in the first place.

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Sickened 2 years, 2 months ago

Every jitney also needs to be checked on a regular basis because I don't know of anyone who has gotten into an accident with a jitney where the Jitney driver has any sort of insurance coverage. They always say that they don't own the Jitney and the police DO NOTHING and say THERE's NOTHING WE CAN DO!

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Truism 2 years, 2 months ago

The IMF also points to the improvement of our fiscal position as a country when all the figures presented by our national agencies clearly say otherwise. Point to one country that they have advised that has had a positive result. LOL after ROTFL.

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bogart 2 years, 2 months ago

The IMF made their statements which one believes or not supported by their data and the local agencies make their statements which one believes or not supported by their data and is reported by the media.

Licks 2 I believe is the best expert who can give very detailed analysis on data collection to say the 'correct' thing. I respect his view on data analysis.

I along with many others do not want to carry any more taxes especially when there are laws to be enforced and it seems these days nothing gets done unless someone posts a video online showing the police some suspected crimonal activity that they must take action. Still willing to believe though that there are a lot of hard working police.

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bcitizen 2 years, 2 months ago

These people must be on drugs. We pay 195 min a year to register a car. 20 dollars a year for a driver's license. 65% duty on a car plus 7.5%vat and a environmental levy and a 1 %proc fee. We also currently pay about a dollar on a gallon of fuel in tax. WTF are they smoking? We must pay again for uninsured driver's? What are the police and road traffic doing with the money we pay mow? Get off your ass, catch and fine the uninsured and use that money to fund uninsured driver's insurance. Don't charge me again for following the rules. F!?k the ass!ho*$s who think this is a good idea.

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John 2 years, 2 months ago

When students hit the 12th grade in this country, the major focus is on taking external examinations and seeing how many they can pass. Despite the fact that many will not continue their education beyond the 12 th grade little else is given in preparation for the real world. And as is done in many states in the USA and other countries around the world, the time has come to include drivers education as part of the 12 grade curriculum that all students are required to take, even if they do not pass the drivers test. And even if students have to pay a part of the cost of the driving lessons, this will go a long way in reducing the accident rate in the country and more especially the fatality count. And since let’s say 90 percent of students coming out of high schools will be licensed drivers it will cut down on license fraud and other incidences that stem from drivers being unlicensed. And along with drivers education a course in health and safety should also be taught to teach young people about general hygiene, drugs and alcohol abuse, proper diet and sex education and stds.. Some feel this should come as early as the 8 or 9 grade but it should also be fresh in the minds of persons leaving school and starting out as adults.

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Proguing 2 years, 2 months ago

This is a pretty stupid idea. Anyone caught driving without insurance should see their car seized and sold to auction. This is how to fund the Motorist Victims Compensation Agency, not by taxing those who already pay car insurance. If you impose a tax for car accidents, nobody will end up paying for car insurance.

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OMG 2 years, 2 months ago

So law abiding citizens should pay for the uninsured ????

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Very well said. The insurers and the Minnis-led FNM government would rather tax us law abiding citizens than enforce existing laws. This is the calculus of the greedy insurance industry and the corrupt politicians they "buy": They simply reckon there are more uninsured motorist voters than there are insured motorist voters! This proposal smells like it has Brent Symonette and his family's insurance and banking investment interests written all over it.

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