Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Drivers with revoked licenses are dangerous

Tonight, police will conduct a driver’s license checkpoint in the southern part of the city. Many have said these checkpoints take resources away from violent crime (they don’t – these are separate officers working on grant-funded overtime) or do nothing to protect public safety. That’s simply untrue.

Our officers already had put in for a grant to conduct these checkpoints when a man with 16 prior convictions for driving without a valid license plowed into the back of a car stopped at a red light, killing 12-year-old Damian Slayton on March 27, 2010. And we have new data now that show a significant portion of the drivers in fatal crashes so far this year were driving with revoked or invalid licenses.

As of Oct. 16, 49 crashes had killed 55 people in Kansas City in 2011. Three of those were hit-and-runs we’re still trying to solve, and another one the Missouri State Highway Patrol is working. So of the 45 crashes in which we know who the driver was, 19 of those drivers were on the road with a revoked or invalid license. That’s 42 percent. Another 11 were under the influence of alcohol or drugs (and we’re still waiting on the lab results for an additional four who we suspect were DUI).

So 42 percent of known drivers in fatal crashes in Kansas City so far this year had a revoked license or none at all. These licenses were revoked for a reason, and these drivers are dangerous. Compared with licensed drivers, unlicensed drivers are 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, 3.7 times more likely to drive while impaired and 4.4 times more likely to be in hit-and-run crashes, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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