Why states should allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses: Hit-and-run accidents fell after California gave those here illegally driver’s licenses, study finds
The facts overwhelmingly support allowing illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, assuming you want to decrease hit-and-tun accidents, but sometimes people are not persuaded by facts. For example, some will want hit-and-run accidents to go down but still refuse driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, though they cannot offer a rational explanation.
This is similar to the finding that offering comprehensive sex education in schools from an early age and make sure that contraceptives are readily available greatly reduces abortions. So you’d think that those who oppose abortion would be strongly in favor of comprehensive sex education in schools and readily available contraception. You’d be wrong. Those against abortion also favor abstinence-based sex education (despite clear evidence that it simply does not have any effect on the abortion rate) and dislike making sure contraceptives are readily available to those who are sexually active. Thus they favor measures that keep the abortion high, and oppose measures that lower the abortion rate. And yet they say they are against abortion. That simply makes no sense to me.
Benjamin Oreskes reports in the LA Times:
California law giving immigrants here illegally the ability to get driver’s licenses appears to have helped decrease hit-and-run accidents, according to a Stanford University study released Monday.
The controversial law, part of a larger effort by state officials to provide rights and services to California residents in the country illegally, resulted in more than 850,000 people getting driver’s licenses since the law took effect in 2015.
Supporters of the measure argued that it would make California roads safer because those here illegally would be forced to take driver’s tests and would be less likely to flee from accidents out of fear of being arrested or deported.
The Stanford study estimated that the rate of hit-and-run accidents decreased at least 7% in 2015 compared with 2014. Using a complex formula, the researchers concluded that there were 4,000 fewer hit-and-runs that year because of the new law.
The Department of Motor Vehicles would not release data on who got the new licenses on a county-by-county basis. So the research team of Hans Lueders, Jens Hainmueller and Duncan Lawrence had to estimate how many new licenses in each county were given to people here illegally.
Hainmueller, a political science professor, said in an interview that the team looked at driver’s licenses issued in the years before the law took effect. In 2015, the number of licenses issued in certain counties with large populations of people here illegally jumped dramatically. They then compared those data to hit-and-run records in those counties and determined they had decreased.
This marked the first time researchers had tried to measure the effects of this policy change.
“We were really interested in part because California is not the only state to have implemented this law,” said Lawrence, another study author and a political science researcher.
The license is intended for people who cannot show proof of legal resident status in the United States. This license though has limits. For example, a Californian couldn’t use an AB-60 license to board an airplane or cross into Canada.
There are 12 states and the District of Columbia with similar laws on the books. Hainmueller pointed out that New York state is currently debating a similar bill, and that the debate there is occurring without much evidence about whether these laws are helpful.
“It’s shocking to see how you have these controversial debates and everyone is flying blind in terms of evidence,” Hainmueller said. “People in favor of it love it, and people against immigration hate it.”
Researchers posited that this new law would give people who may have been driving without a license a new confidence about being on the roads. Before, if they had been in a fender-bender, they may have been worried about waiting for authorities to arrive. These results suggest “that, if anything, providing unauthorized immigrants access to driver’s licenses reduced their incentives to flee the scene of an accident,” the authors of the study write.
The study finds that this reduction in hit-and-runs had a marked economic benefit. “Because AB60 led to an annual decline in hit and run accidents by about 4,000, not-at-fault drivers avoided out of pocket expenses for car repairs (physical damage) of about $3.5 million,” according to the researchers.
That’s on top of $17 million per year that . . .
Why are legislators so uninterested in evidence? Because it might change their views? (But wouldn’t that be stupid?)