Just a few days ago, I posted on a mileage-based car insurance program that recently made its debut in Japan — and hoped that this could hasten the introduction of a similar system on this side of the Pacific.

Now, the LA Times reports on an announcement by California’s insurance commissioner that he’s planning to …

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… propose rules forcing auto insurers to set rates based on the driving records and miles driven by motorists, and to give less weight to where drivers live — a change that could affect the pocketbooks of 23 million California drivers.

The proposal was embraced by consumer and civil rights advocates who have long complained that city dwellers — especially in minority neighborhoods — pay higher rates than drivers with similar records who live in rural towns and suburbs. [Emphasis added.]

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Seems like the U.S. didn’t have to wait for Japan’s lead after all. Obviously, this is not yet a done deal. But it’s still promising — because it could make the automotive insurance system fairer to people who don’t drive much (notably women, the poor, and city-dwellers), and because it could give all drivers the opportunity to control their insurance costs by driving less.