Carelessness can be costly

Three months ago Thernell Jones had big plans for his 1996 Honda Accord. He wanted to “hook it up” with new rims and a stereo system.

Now Jones is forced to find rides or catch the bus because of a recent car accident.

“I was riding down the street, and out of nowhere a girl ran a stop sign and rammed into me,” said the 22-year-old economics student from Hollywood, Fla. “She didn’t have insurance, but I did. So hopefully I’ll have my car fixed soon.”

The woman responsible for the accident could have prevented herself from having to pay for the damages and facing possible fines if she followed the requirements the state has for insurance.

In the state of Florida, it is required for all motorists to at least carry vehicle property damage liability.

However, according to the Financial Responsibility for Motorists Law, if a driver injures someone in an accident and can not pay for the victim’s medical bills, the that driver’s license will be suspended until payment is made.

The 2001 statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles states there were 256,169 crashes killing 3,013 people statewide in one year.

Cathy English, a research assistant for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, offers advice to students on saving lives and avoiding insurance coverage problems. She said the primary issue is remembering to take safety precautions.

“The most important thing is to buckle up,” said English, a research assistant for the FHSMV.

“It only takes a few seconds and it saves a lot of lives.”

Brian Mucha, a licensed direct sales representative for Progressive Automotive Insurance, said that it is imperative for victims involved in a vehicular accident to gather information.

“If you ever get into an accident always exchange names, phone numbers and policy numbers,” Mucha said. “Always attempt to call the police if you want to file a claim with your insurance agency.”

According to Mucha, if you don’t file an accident report immediately you can be arrested for leaving the scene of an accident.

Nancy Yates, a crash record clerk for the FHSMV, agreed. “If someone is hurt or there is property damage you can get into trouble with the law.”

For drivers who want to learn more about automobile insurance laws and safety, visit

Talisha Hill can be reached at