September 1, 2013

Uninsured drivers pose physical, fiscal hazards

Though Maine has a low percentage of people without insurance, hundreds of accidents each year testify to the dangers on the roads.

By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Police images from Mike Lyons' 2008 accident show the damage to his vehicle, left, and the uninsured motorist's Jeep. The accident was the start of a long medical journey for Lyons, who is still angry about the accident.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

click image to enlarge

Mike Lyons holds a copy of an X-ray of his femur that was repaired after it was seriously injured in 2008.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

UNINSURED ACCIDENTS A CONSTANT PROBLEM

The toll from Maine's uninsured drivers is measured by more than money. Accidents involving uninsured drivers can cause years of bills, red tape and complications for other accident victims.

Accidents in Maine involving uninsured drivers:

2010: 219

2011: 229

2012: 234

2013: 172 as of Aug. 29

Source: Maine State Police Traffic Division

"I don't see the downside," he said. "If somebody's vehicle is uninsured, then it really shouldn't be driven."

Lyons raised the idea during a public meeting with Gov. Paul LePage, who Lyons said, expressed interest. LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, confirmed that the two met, but did not respond to inquiries about LePage's position on the issue. After Lyons sent a follow-up email to LePage, Lt. Brian Scott, commanding officer of the traffic safety unit of the Maine State Police, responded to Lyons on LePage's behalf.

In the response, Scott cited the thousands of tickets issued to uninsured drivers every year, and said the purpose was to hold violators accountable.

MORE TO BE DONE?

Lyons said more needs to be done to protect those who, like him, are caught between an uninsured driver and massive medical bills.

Lyons' situation has improved. After years of searching, he found a doctor who agreed to replace his hip, which has helped him walk and eliminated his pain.

However, Lyons is still angry -- with the system and with the uninsured driver who wreaked havoc on his life.

He's angry that she walked away from the accident with minor bumps and bruises, that she didn't call to apologize or check on his status, that he has been left with such a heavy burden through no fault of his own.

For each consequence he suffers, he can't help but draw comparisons.

After he was classified as disabled, he said, "I had to go down to the registry and do a driving test. I'm the one that had to take the driving test."

Lyons said he won't feel better until the risk posed by uninsured drivers is eliminated for those who are put in a no-win situation simply for venturing onto the road.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@mainetoday.com

 

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