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High insurance premiums turn many Detroit motorists into hit-and-run drivers

cars trafficBy Dennis Boatwright II

Detroit leads the nation in the number of deaths caused by hit-and-run drivers. In fact, according to Michigan Crash Facts, Detroit accounts for nearly 50 percent of all hit-and-run fatalities in Michigan. The spike in vehicular homicides over the past few years in the city of Detroit has inspired many writers to comment on it. Most of their observations, however, appear to deliberately shield big corporations from their role in these brutal deaths.

For instance, local media continuously miss the mark by solely attributing this deadly phenomenon to inadequate city services, such as poor street lighting and slow emergency response. While news coverage correctly points the finger at government, it is notably silent on placing a share of the blame on the insurance companies who charge Detroiters disproportionately high monthly insurance premiums.

Runzheimer International, a research organization that monitors insurance rates, reports Detroiters pay the highest insurance premiums in the nation. According to their data, on average, Detroit motorists pay $5,941 per year on car insurance, while Washington D.C., residents pay just $1,866 and Maine residents a mere $899. In most cases, Motor City drivers’ insurance payments are much higher than the worth of the vehicle. That is, some Detroiters pay $5,000 annually for a used car worth only $3,200.

It’s no surprise then that 50 percent of Detroit drivers are behind the wheel with no car insurance, as revealed by Department of Transportation statistics.

Court transcripts show many male and female hit-and-run drivers remorsefully confess if they had valid car insurance they would have stopped to assist the person they struck. But, because car insurance is so expensive in Detroit, they were unable to purchase an affordable policy. So we can safely surmise if the hit-and-run drivers had insurance when they accidentally ran over 55-year-old Darlene Yeargin while she was going to volunteer at the Assemblies of God Church on Puritan Ave., they may have stopped to transport her to the hospital, possibly saving her life.

Typically, what is supposed to determine insurance premiums is a driving record, age and vehicle safety features. But the main criteria used to charge Detroiters is the city in which they live.

To reduce hit-and-run accidents this discriminatory practice must end. Detroiters must begin by contacting insurance companies to register their complaints. Then thereafter call their U.S. representatives (such as John Conyers) and state legislators to put pressure on them to enact laws that will put a ceiling on the rates insurance companies can charge. As a result, insurance premiums will be compatible with the income the average Detroit motorist makes. When monthly payments become reasonable, maybe pedestrians such as 44-year-old Kathy Lewis will be rushed to the emergency room instead of left to die.

Dennis Boatwright II can be reached at 313.469.4756 or  

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