North County Drivers Face Crash Tax

Insurance companies oppose plan to target drivers in wrecks

Starting this month, if you're to blame for a traffic wreck in the Fallbrook area, your insurance company will get a bill for the time and effort it takes firefighters to clean up your mess, according to a published report.

The new fee -- or "crash tax," as some opponents call it -- is not unique to the North County Fire Protection District, which serves roughly 50,000 people from Fallbrook to Bonsall to Rainbow, reported the North County Times.

Similar charges have been approved across California and the nation in recent months as cash-strapped local governments try to balance their recession-wracked budgets. Fire departments from Fresno to Hemet to Spring Valley are considering similar programs or have already put them in place, said Chief Bill Metcalf of the Fallbrook-area district.

Insurance companies are the main opponents. They call the fee "double taxation," noting that homeowners already pay property taxes to cover emergency response. Bills will range from $435 to $2,100 depending on the severity of the car wreck and service required.

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