Tulsa May Soon Impose Fee On Drivers Involved In Crashes

Monday, December 20th 2010, 10:34 pm
By: News On 6

Chris Wright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa is moving closer to requiring drivers to help foot the bill for traffic accidents.

A proposal the city council will consider would charge drivers $200 if they are responsible for an accident.

City councilors say you would only be charged if the accident is your fault. Still, they admit that people may not be excited to pay for a service they are already taxed for.

Cleaning up wrecks isn't cheap, and the Tulsa fire department says it can use all the help it can get with the bill.

"Everyone is looking for different alternatives as far as funding. Just trying to find out different ways to fund public safety," said Tulsa Fire Captain Tim Smallwood.

Like most arms of city government, TFD continues to suffer from a revenue shortage. Officials estimate that the $200 surcharge would raise an extra $400 thousand a year, money that could be used to hire extra firefighters or upgrade the department's technology.

"It looks like a viable solution, and if it's viable then of course we're going to support it. If it's viable. If it turns out not to be, then we won't," Smallwood said.

"It's just something that we need to look at. I'm not saying that we need to do it, but I think it has some potential," Said Tulsa City Councilor Chris Trail.

Councilor Trail is a big backer of the fee proposal. He says Sand Springs, Sapulpa and Coweta already have similar practices in place, but those cities charge between three and five hundred dollars.

"You have drunk drivers out there causing accidents that other taxpayers have to take care of. That drunk driver's problem, we have to take care of it," Trail said.

Of course, not all wrecks are caused by drunk drivers. Many accidents are just that, accidents. In those cases, Trail says neither driver would be charged the $200.

The fee might not be the most popular way to increase revenue, but with all the problems local governments are facing, Trail says it's almost inevitable.

"This is just something that a lot of the surrounding communities do, and a lot of place throughout the country do. It's just kind of starting to move that way," Trail said.

Some cities in other areas of the country are now charging a fee for responding to house fires. Councilor Trail says that will not happen here in Tulsa.