Around the country, cities and counties are deciding whether or not to charge “crash taxes,” an amount ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars that car accident victims would have to pay in order to cover the emergency response to the crash.
Traffic accidents that involved serious injuries or car fires would cost the drivers more, while crashes that only required a police response would cost less. In some cities, drivers who were at fault for the accident would have to pay the entire crash tax – but only if you could prove who was at fault.
Recently in Texas, the city of McKinney was considering a crash tax, though only if you were in a car accident within city limits and did not live in town. While the fire department and some city officials supported the bill, which would help with the municipality’s recent budget problems, others thought that a crash tax would hurt local businesses and stop out-of-town drivers from visiting. At the same time, some residents felt that it was simply unfair to charge drivers for emergency services in the wake of an accident. In the end, the crash tax did not pass City Council.
However, while some small towns like McKinney are rejecting the idea of traffic accident fees, other larger Texas cities have already embraced the idea. Dallas passed a crash tax law in 2008 and has been making over one million dollars each year since simply through charging car accident victims for the services they need after a collision.
While crash taxes can help struggling cities with tight budgets, it is difficult to see how these new fees can help car accident victims. Many driver will have to struggle with fixing their cars (or getting a new one) and with the medical bills that come with car accident injuries. Will driver now also have to pay the city for their accident? In addition, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault for the accident and who should be responsible for paying the fee.