Friday, August 27, 2010

Recent study found that Licensed drivers have no accidents.

Obviously if you've had as much as a fender bender and had to show your license and proof of insurance recently, you know the opening statement is false.

As I was reading Newsweek a few weeks ago, I stumbled across the following blurb on the National News page:

A Red Light for Undocumented Drivers in New Mexico
by Ryan Tracy

As recently as 2006, 10 states allowed immigrants to apply for a driver’s license without proving their legal residence. As border control has become a bigger political issue, however, that right has evaporated in all but three states: Utah, New Mexico, and Washington—which may soon be the last place where all drivers can get a regular license. Earlier this year Utah restricted all noncitizens to a special “driving privileges” card that can’t be used as identification. And in New Mexico, both gubernatorial candidates have said they would stop licensing drivers who can’t prove their legal status.

When the issue arose during the 2008 election, Barack Obama argued that licensing all drivers was a matter of highway safety (others opposed the idea on national-security grounds). But in the five states that have stopped licensing illegal immigrants for more than a year, there’s been no appreciable difference in the number of vehicle crashes, according to a NEWSWEEK review of state motor-vehicle data. If there are any reasons not to grant everyone the same access to roads, safety is not one of them.

Best case scenario, Ryan Tracy is an intern and not a real news reporter, or the editors at Newsweek took a mid-summer vacation. Both of these scenarios make this published news somewhat acceptable, but if neither one or both are not true, then what is Newsweek thinking, publishing arguments that are so uneducated?

The debate over licensing undocumented individuals, is so that in the future they can legally drive with a proof of verified identity and can get insurance so that- thinking of the greater good, grazing goat argument- we can all be safe and equally protected. In the scenario that there is an accident of a documented and an undocumented individual (/family) then the person at fault will still be able to be held responsible and there will be no injustice one way or the other. (As is the case now, among documented and licensed drivers).

What happens when individuals don't have a drivers licenses is that we are constantly a community at risk. Again, just like any other issue of regulating behavior of individuals in the community, just because we don't "legally allow it", doesn't mean it isn't going on and will continue, therefore, what can we do to maximize the benefit for all, and minimize the risk? In the case of an accident, because the consequences of a fender bender or large accident are far greater for an undocumented individual they can and sometimes flee the scene, which then leaves the licensed party, holding the bag. Conversely,when undocumented unlicensed individuals are not at fault, accidents, cannot be settled appropriately through insurance companies and so forth. Also unjust.

In California, Police Departments across the State as well many many elected officials understand and agree that licensing all those that can qualify for a drivers license regardless of legal status is a matter of public benefit and safety, however, our actor Governor, among others refuse to understand the merit of these arguments. Maybe they too are reading Newsweek?