“Get a license!”

Whether we say it out loud or just think it, many of us have been left wondering how certain drivers are allowed to operate a motor vehicle. The sad fact of the matter is that many of the worst drivers do not, in fact, have a valid license to drive in Colorado. Some never had a license. Others had one, but had it taken away for one reason or another. The problem of unlicensed drivers is widespread, and people are starting to look for ways to address the issue.

The numbers

According to research conducted by the AAA, almost 20 percent of deadly crashes involve at least one driver who has no license, or whose license is not valid at the time of the accident. The research concluded that around 8,400 people die each year in crashes involving these drivers. This does not account for all the deaths involving drivers who successfully flee the scene, a known problem with unlicensed drivers.

What should trigger action?

The drivers who lose their licenses are not all alike. Some license suspensions are due to drinking and driving. Others are based on repeated traffic violations. But in Colorado, it is also possible to have your license suspended for failure to pay a traffic ticket or failure to pay court-ordered child support. Relatively few people would advocate for imprisoning a person due to poverty.

The question is how much bad driving is too much? At what point is it fair to conclude that a person simply does not have the temperament or ability to safely operate a vehicle? And once that point is reached, how should we go about making sure that the person doesn’t simply drive without a license?

The victims of these unlicensed drivers can lose their health, their ability to function and even their lives. It is fair to question whether enough is being done to deter people from getting behind the wheel without a valid driver’s license. 

Source: ABC News, “Report: Beware of Unlicensed Drivers,” By ABC News July 13

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