Posted: Sep 26, 2013 4:09 PM by April Hansen, KSBY
Updated: Sep 26, 2013 9:24 PM
A new state bill known as AB 60 would allow some undocumented immigrants to have driver's licenses.
The bill has made it through the legislature and is now waiting for the governor's signature.
Santa Maria Police Department traffic officials say they believe this bill would make the streets safer. Officials say Santa Maria has the second highest rate of collisions in the state for a city its size and they often involve unlicensed drivers.
A 2012 California Department of Motor Vehicles study found unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to cause a crash and tend to be more hazardous behind the wheel.
"People that aren't appropriately trained or have the skills or the practice that other properly trained drivers have are more likely to get involved in a traffic accident than someone who knows the law and the signs," said Sergeant Jesus Valle, Santa Maria Police Department.
He says the city averages five to six traffic collisions a day.
"More properly trained drivers out on the road would make it safer for everyone," he said.
In 2009, there were 1,685 crashes in the city. From there, the numbers got worse, hitting almost 2,000 last year.
Sergeant Valle says one of the problems in Santa Maria is drivers fleeing the scene.
"Sometimes they have been drinking. They are wanted or have a warrant. Sometimes people just panic and take off at the scene, but one factor for why they do leave the scene is that they are unlicensed," said Sergeant Valle.
Carlos Cedillo says he has family and friends who don't have licenses.
"They don't drive. They don't want to get in trouble because it's a big fine. This will help them out a lot," said Cedillo.
He says he would feel a lot safer on the road if he knew more drivers were trained.
The California DMV doesn't know how many unlicensed drivers there are in the state.
Sergeant Valle says it is a misdemeanor if you are caught driving without a license.
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