State officials estimate a third of Oklahoma motorists are driving while uninsured at any point in time. They get liability insurance for long enough to get the vehicle's tag renewed but then drop it until the next go-round. Or they obtain a fraudulent insurance verification card that passes the tag agency test.

A state House insurance committee is looking at ways to increase compliance with vehicle insurance laws. The problem, according to State Rep. Ron Peterson, is identifying uninsured motorists before they have an accident.

Part of the problem as we see it is that Oklahoma did away with its vehicle inspection law a few years back. The inspection repeal was sold as a tax break for vehicle owners. It also did away with a second check on insurance verification.

Inspection stations that checked brakes, headlights and tire tread also checked a vehicle's insurance verification. Now, no one is checking the tires and taillight and the insurance gets checked once a year instead of twice.

Mr. Peterson, a former insurance agent, is looking at identifying uninsured motorists through an online verification system that allows law enforcement officers to submit a vehicle's identification number and insurance policy to a database to determine if a policy is in effect. That would require legislation compelling insurance companies to provide the database.

We're all for using databases to check for insurance coverage. The worst time to find out that third driver you meet on the street is uninsured is usually after you've been involved in an accident with them.

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