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Too Far? Britain May Soon Use Cameras to Monitor, Capture Uninsured Drivers at the Pump

Goal: Force uninsured drivers off the road.

England's government is looking to crack down on uninsured motorists, and they're considering using a comprehensive network of CCTV cameras at gas stations to do it.

The potential plan?  A license recognition program on the cameras would cross-check license plate numbers with a list of insured drivers, and if found to be fraudulently driving, the pump would simply shut off and local patrols would be alerted.

The hope is that, by removing their ability to get gas, uninsured drivers will either be forced off the road, or into an insured vehicle.

England has around 1.4 million uninsured drivers, which is roughly 1 in 25 of those on the road.  They are responsible for killing around 160 people per year, and since they are uninsured, are much more difficult to trace and bring to justice.  Their other behavior costs insurance companies roughly £500 million (roughly $781.63 million) a year, adding roughly £30 ($47) to every annual premium.

Most gas stations in England already have private CCTV systems to prevent gasoline theft, so the only major expenditure would be installing the real-time license recognition technology.

Some, however, say this is going a step too far.

Even though the information isn't being aggregated, many insured drivers don't necessarily like the idea that the government can both track them, and deny them services over a looming camera.

Similarly, there are concerns that the new "gas station program" will be as inefficient as other measures enacted by government.  What if there is a mistake and an insured driver isn't allowed to fill his tank?  How long will it take him to sort out that mess?  And will this lead to government monitoring your carbon emissions, too?

Gas station owners and employees have concerns of their own.

Brian Madderson of from RMI Petrol said, “Staff are already getting stick from motorists for high fuel prices...This proposal will increase the potential for conflict. Our cashiers are not law enforcers.”

What do you think?  Is this technology creepy, or practical?  And how long do you think before our government implements its own version? And what other ways could this technology be used?

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