If you read me regularly you know I tore up my 2-seater doing 360’s down the freeway a few weeks ago. I eventually ended up back-end in to a guardrail. Well, before I could blink an eye (seriously it came in the mail before I had obtained a rental car) I received a bill from the state for damage to the guardrail.
The state demanded I pay $1450.00 for guardrail damage or I could lose my driver’s license. Personally I was offended. Although I suffered no injuries other than a stiff neck and shock, my car was a mess, and the State, unfeeling and uncaring, could only send a letter stating pay for the guardrail immediately or else.
I have a mind to contest the invoice. I was partially in a state of shock when I extracted myself from the vehicle to check the damage and ascertain I could drive away. I did not check the guardrail by presume a two-seat sports car when be on the losing end with any guardrail. I drove away to pick up my wife at the airport. Upon picking her up and passing the scene of the accident on the way back, I pulled in to a restaurant to call the police so that I would have a report for the insurance company.
When the officer asked where it occurred I could only tell him a general area. How he was able to determine my exact location is beyond me. I believe he and the state, are bluffing when they determined how much damage was done and where it occurred.
I had no clue states had begun charging accident victims for guardrails and other structures hit by unlucky motorists. The fact that they attach payment to your driver’s license seems extreme. And the demand letter you receive before you even get your vehicle to a body shop is unacceptable.
The State of Tennessee recently billed a dead teen nearly $3000 to replace the guardrail that killed her in a crash last November. Her family, extremel y distraught over her death, says they will not pay the bill and even contend the poorly designed guardrail was partially responsible for her death.
A few months after her death, Steven Elmers of Lenoir City received a $2970.00 bill from the Tennessee Department of Transportation addressed to the deceased daughter, Hannah, for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail.
“I’m shocked, the audacity,” said Elmers to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “What bothers me is that they’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. They know these guardrails do not perform at high speeds…”
I can tell you the guardrail I hit did its job. It prevented me from being upside down in a deep ravine. For that I am grateful. However, as Elmers said, the audacity to send a letter demanding immediate payment or your license will be taken, is extremely uncaring – particularly when someone died as the result of a crash.
I realize states have to get all they can get. But this particular “money grab” seems ridiculous, particularly when no ticket was issued. I think we as citizens pay enough- particularly with the increased licensing fees, that states should be able to fix a dent in a guardrail without demanding payment from someone, in my case, that already pays plenty in state taxes and fees.
Have a heart, and stop being so greedy- that’s what I would tell states that have this policy in place.