City in Texas Imposes Crash Tax

crash taxThink getting into an auto accident is bad? It’s about to get worse. Starting March 1, one Texas town will start charging drivers extra to respond to wrecks.

“That really ticks me,” Missouri City resident Meredith Johnson told “I can’t believe that. That’s crazy!”

She isn’t alone in her frustration.

Cash-strapped municipalities across the country have started charging victims for responding to accidents and other emergencies. Sometimes a person’s insurer will pick up the tab, but a growing number are refusing to — that means on top of paying for vehicle damages and insurance hikes, motorists are now being slapped with thousands of dollars in additional fines.

The fee, known as a “crash tax,” covers the costs of first responders that come to the aid in the event of an accident. The tax has been expanded in more than 50 cities in 26 states, but there is a growing backlash against the practice.

In Missouri City, Texas, drivers involved in an accident will be charged up to $2,000 even if they don’t call for help. According to Fire Chief Russell Sander, insurance companies will be forced to pony up the cash, not victims.

Ten states so far have agreed that saddling victims with additional fines sends the wrong message and have outlawed it. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Bills prohibiting local governments from charging accident response fees have been introduced — but not yet passed — in Arizona, California and Michigan, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Still, there are many other places that continue to tap the misfortunes of drivers to keep their communities from bleeding red ink. In Colorado, a measure that would ban cities from levying the taxes to recoup fire, ambulance and police costs by finding drivers at fault for accidents has made steady gains among state lawmakers in the House but has run into opposition with Democrats.

A crash tax was implemented in Fraser, Mich., in 2011. City manager Richard Haberman told The Associated Press the intent wasn’t to gouge residents.

“We’re just trying to cover costs,” Haberman said.

Sander, in Missouri City, says drivers shouldn’t be worried. He told San Antonio’s he doesn’t “think they’re going to see much difference in our services or their cost that’s out of their pocket.”

Many argue that insurers will push the penalties onto their customers by increasing deductibles, premiums or limiting coverage.

  1. David Strang 6 years ago

    Got to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in awhile. What’s next? If someone breaks into your home while you’re away and police become involved in a shootout, are they going to charge you for every bullet they use? Governments at all levels need to do their jobs. If they can’t manage, fire them & get someone who can.

  2. Michael Marie 6 years ago

    Typical response by politicians. Just tax everyone and skip doing what they were elected to do.Look deeper into the problem to find alternate solutions to the mismangement they have created themselves. Continued managed stupidity!

  3. Byron Hodges 6 years ago

    What do we pay taxes for? This is really stupid. It is just another way to try and recoup what poor management has caused. It is bad enough to have an accident, but to tax them on top of that for having one. If the insurance pays for it, it will just be passed on to their customers. These people that have these dumb ideas know that insurance companies have deep pockets! What about the people that don’t have insurance, they won’t pay and that will be passed on to those who can. Insurance premiums go up if you have an accident. Your credit rating is used in part to determine your rates for insurance. What next, will there be a tax for each type of crime that is committed against an honest citizen? The criminal sure isn’t going to pay for it.

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