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The number of uninsured drivers will be greatly reduced in Massachusetts if lawmakers there pass a measure to remove immigration status as a consideration when issuing drivers licenses, according to supporters of the “Safe Driving Bill.”
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), said in a statement that the bill would “go a long way towards making sure all Massachusetts drivers are trained, licensed and insured.”
MIRA had planned to submit public testimony last week at the hearing from Carly McClain, who the group said suffered car crash injuries when she was hit by a man who was driving without insurance or a license. (But the hearing was postponed due to severe weather.)
“If the gentleman who hit my car had had the ability to apply for a license, he might have then passed a road test that would have made him a safer driver,” she said.
Such efforts have ramped up recently across the U.S. to varying degrees of success. Laws in Nevada and Maryland allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers licenses went into effect early last month; those states reported departments of motor vehicles crowded with applicants seeking licensure.
But a similar measure in Oregon, passed by legislators and signed into law by the governor there last year, is on hold until voters decide on it in November.
Traffic safety is one of the more commonly cited benefits that these statewide proposals to ease licensing requirements share. Traffic safety was cited again by supporters of H 3285 in the Bay State, where Safe Driving Coalition MA said the bill would “increase compliance” with Massachusetts car insurance requirements.
“The Safe Driving Bill would credibly require all motorists to share the responsibility of mandatory liability insurance,” the group said in a statement. “By reducing the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers, this bill would reduce the unfair burden of insurance costs carried disproportionately by currently licensed drivers.”
According to the bill’s language, “a holder of a license issued under this section shall be subject to any and all provisions of … mandatory insurance requirements and penalties.”
Massachusetts drivers on the road without the state’s minimum auto coverage face fines up to $500 on a first offense and $5,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.
You should know that Massachusetts has the lowest statewide rate of uninsured drivers in the U.S., according to the Insurance Research Council. If only other states were as diligent about enforcing the laws already on the books!