Last month, I discussed the deplorable state of Georgia's trauma care network and the increase in auto accident fatality rates in rural Georgia, which has fewer numbers of such emergency care centers. A severe paucity of funds, made worse by a recession and a budget deficit, threatens to condemn thousands of Georgians in the south to continued limited access to "golden hour" trauma care. Now, a new bill that offers a ray of hope for funding efforts has been introduced in the legislature.
The bill, sponsored by state Representative Jim Cole is backed by Governor Sonny Purdue. It aims to charge an additional fee of $200 from every motorist who is caught driving at extreme speeds on the state's highways. Motorists driving at 85 mph on four lane highways and 75 mph on two lane roads will have to pay the $200 fine, in addition to any other fines that may be levied. The bill will also impose a fine of $400 on drivers as they attempt to get their suspended or revoked driver's licenses renewed. The bill aims to raise at least $30 million each year, and these funds will be used to expand the state's trauma care system. Another scheme that will eliminate the annual car tag tax, and replace it with a fee of $1,500 payable one time only on newly purchased vehicles, is also receiving backing from House Republicans. This move too is expected to add to the state's coffers, enabling funds to be channeled towards trauma care center expansion.
As a Georgia personal injury lawyer and a concerned Georgia citizen, I am delighted by these measures that promise to bridge the gap in emergency trauma care in cities and rural centers. It also makes perfect sense to me that "super speeders," who are typically involved in serious auto accidents, are the ones who should pay heavy fines for their behavior, thus funding the expansion plan.
The risk of death is highest during the "golden hour" - the first hour after a serious car accident, fall or explosion - and too many Georgians suffer from a lack of access to immediate trauma care because there are no trauma care centers in their area. If the bill is passed, more people in rural parts of the state will receive access to the trauma care they need.