Granting driver’s licenses doesn’t guarantee safety

A recent T-R article told of the police chief’s drive for temporary driver’s licenses for immigrants. How often do we see a front page article where someone in law enforcement appears to be supporting breaking U.S. laws? We have to assume that he means those in the U.S. illegally – otherwise couldn’t they get driver’s licenses? Quotes in the article from several people carry the theme of safety, for the children, benefitting the entire state and Marshalltown. That sounds lofty, but let’s look at the idea closer.

This article seems to say that those not lawfully present in the U.S. are going to drive anyway, so we should issue licenses. Would these licenses be stamped with “immigrant”? In 2004 there were about 42,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries from auto accidents with the vast majority being licensed, insured drivers. Where is the correlation that these accidents would have been prevented if we had just issued licenses to those immigrants here against the law? The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed traffic accident data and reported that less than 5 percent of drivers involved in fatal car accidents were unlicensed drivers. If states really want to prevent crashes by unlicensed drivers, the state would try to prevent their driving in the first place. Granting licenses does not guarantee that a person would drive safely, follow our other laws, or purchase and keep insurance coverage.

Let’s look at two states that are now or did previously issue driver’s licenses to those in the U.S. illegally. New Mexico found that it did not lessen the number of uninsured drivers and instead increased illegal immigration to the state. The state estimates it has 49,000 people residing there illegally, yet 80,000 licenses have been issued to foreign nationals. New Mexico has the second highest percentage of uninsured drivers. The governor, Susana Martinez, has stated she would like to see the law repealed. Tennessee stopped issuing driver’s licenses and rescinded the law as non-residents were being shuttled there from other states. There was a substantial increase in the use of false residency documents.

For those of you who think issuing licenses to those not lawfully in the U.S. would increase citizen’s safety, ponder this. In total, 63 various licenses were given to the 9/11 hijackers. Did that make the 3,000 people who were killed on that day any safer? I think not.