TULSA - Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has established a Thanksgiving tradition of riding along with Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers.
This year, he'll climb into an OHP patrol car at midnight on Thursday and spend a couple hours on the roads around Tulsa.
He has two primary reasons, he told KRMG in an exclusive interview.
"Every Thanksgiving I have formed the habit of riding with the Highway Patrol, really to say thank you to them," he said. "They work very, very hard for Oklahomans."
But his second purpose is to raise awareness of uninsured drivers on the roads, and the dangers they pose to the law-abiding public.
"This is also an opportunity to draw a little attention to the over 564,000 drivers on the Oklahoma roads that will be out driving that do not have insurance. We'll be riding along, learning how the process works and having an opportunity to see firsthand how the Oklahoma Highway Patrol interacts."
Soon, those troopers and other police agencies will have a new tool to use to crack down on uninsured drivers.
"It's going into effect January 1st," Doak told KRMG.
The law actually took effect Nov. 1, but the Insurance Commission and other agencies needed more time to figure out exactly how to implement it.
It allows officers to remove the tags of uninsured vehicles, and forces the owner to purchase "forced place insurance," basically a 10-day liability insurance.
Doak says Louisiana passed a similar law, and saw the rate of uninsured drivers go from about 30 percent to about 12 percent.
He adds that state minimum liability coverage costs an average of about $700 a year -- less than $60 a month.