Archive for Monday, August 16, 2010

1 in 10 fatal crashes involves unlicensed driver

August 16, 2010


— Kansas officials say it’s a maddening when someone who has no driver’s license is involved in a fatal crash, but they’re not sure how to fix the problem.

The Kansas Department of Transportation says that for the past decade, roughly 10 percent of all fatal accidents in the state each year involves an unlicensed driver.

In 2008, the latest year for complete data, 40 of the state’s 385 traffic deaths involved a driver without a license. That same year, 1,482 people suffered injuries in such accidents, The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday.

State Sen. Les Donovan, a Wichita Republican, said fatal crashes involving unlicensed drivers are an outrage, but there’s not a lot that can be done to prevent them.

“We’re always working on a fix,” Donovan said. “It’s more than vexing. If there’s a fix out there that would work, we would know about it.”

Phil Journey, a former state senator who now is a Sedgwick County District Court judge, said the immediate reaction many people have to the problem of unlicensed drivers is to call for impounding more vehicles, raising fines and putting more people in jail.

But those aren’t really workable solutions, both Journey and Donovan told the newspaper.

The current maximum penalty for driving without a license is six months in a county jail and a $1,000 fine, but Journey said the typical penalty is five days in jail and a $200 fine.

“We do not have enough jails” to house all the violators, Donovan said. “And we’re not going to build enough jails because the cost” is unacceptable to taxpayers.

“Maybe that sounds a little crass and uncaring, but it’s not.”

He said it may sound reasonable to raise fines, “but they won’t pay. They don’t have the money. They’re not paying the fines that are in place today.”

He said they wouldn’t pay the higher fines, either.

“How can you punish someone who has nothing to take away?” Donovan said.

And as for impounding vehicles, Journey said courts have some ability to do that as a result of drunken-driving convictions, but not for license violations.

Besides, other issues would arise if the state started taking people’s cars away.

“We don’t have any place to put the cars ... and the procedure is very cumbersome to order the impoundment ... and order a tow truck to pick up the vehicle. I have ordered impoundment in the past, but it’s difficult to enforce.

“If all the courts in Sedgwick County impounded all the DUI cars, I think we’d fill up the parking lot of the Kansas Coliseum pretty quickly.”

Donovan also said that if a violator’s vehicle is taken away, innocent family members can be deprived of transportation.

Journey said state budget restraints also are contributing to people not having licenses. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s phone number people can call to see if their license is suspended, and how to get it reinstated, gets answered only three days a week because of budget cuts.

Often drivers who get into trouble compound their problems by not paying fines, meeting court dates or updating their addresses, said Carmen Alldritt, director of vehicles for the Department of Revenue.

“Traffic tickets don’t go away,” she said. “Just take care of it from the beginning.”


wpike 3 years, 8 months ago

I bet 1-10 drivers are unlicensed.


notajayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

"Journey said state budget restraints also are contributing to people not having licenses. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s phone number people can call to see if their license is suspended, and how to get it reinstated, gets answered only three days a week because of budget cuts."

Seems like they should be able to automate that some, e.g. a website where one could check.


Tom Shewmon 3 years, 8 months ago

Wait until the number of elderly drivers doubles over the next 15-20 years. Defender, I mean no offense to the elderly.



gccs14r 3 years, 8 months ago

All licenses now have a mag stripe on the back. Have the auto manufacturers install a mag stripe reader that prevents starting the vehicle without insertion of a valid license. It won't fix the problem right away, but it will fix it over time as older cars come off the road. It will also serve as another layer of theft deterrence.


darthvedder 3 years, 8 months ago

Considering one can only be either licensed or unlicensed, the more disturbing statistic seems to be '9 out of 10 fatal crashes involves a licensed driver".

Maybe they should spend there time figuring out why people who are deemed by the state to be able/responsible/skilled enough to drive a car are causing 90% of fatal crashes.


notajayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

"1 in 10 fatal crashes involves unlicensed driver"

Wow! That guy's been busy!


beaujackson 3 years, 8 months ago

Confiscating cars will solve the problem.


Snodgrass 3 years, 8 months ago

2 to 1 odds that they are Democrats.

This mayham is another example of Pitts uncivility in America.


Eybea Opiner 3 years, 8 months ago

PopcoRN, retroactive licensing isn't such a bad idea. Immediately solve the problem of unlicensed drivers.

Just like amnesty for border violaters, huh?


lionheart72661 3 years, 8 months ago

Kansasmutt..why are they all jerks? you're going to sit there and tell me that you never talked on your cell phone while driving? And if you drink you're going to tell me you never had a couple and got behind the wheel of your car? But beyond that only 10% is by unlicensed drivers that still makes 90% that are in accidents that are licenced. What is the percentage of elderly and inexperienced youths that are involved. Get those numbers then you can set your new assumption numbers.


Kelly Johnson 3 years, 8 months ago

The way to figure out a solution is to have more information. Of the 10% that are unlicensed drivers, why are they unlicensed? Does that mean they haven't ever had a license, or that they had one and it is overdue to be renewed, or that they have had their licenses suspended or revoked due to repeated traffic violations?

But...probably the simplest way to solve this problem would be to retroactively issue them licenses.

I'm kidding about that last part, in case you didn't already realize that.


tokenshi 3 years, 8 months ago

Not to state the obvious, but 100% of fatal crashes involve cars. This is the problem.

We seem to be one of the only countries who view owning cars as a god given right. I think switching our focus to awesome forms of mass transit (shinkansen style trains in between cities etc.) would be a good start in general. Less people in cars, the better.


kansasmutt 3 years, 8 months ago

I would bet 20% of that 10% are illegals. 50% are DUI jerks and the remaining 30% Cell phone jerks and just stupid people. The fix, evolution, to weed out the stupid DUI jerks and the cell phone users and stupid people. As for the illegals, we have borders to stop them.


Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

What percent of the unlicensed drivers are in this country illegally?


imastinker 3 years, 8 months ago

Conclusion: State Rep Donovan doesn't want to enforce our laws and needs to find a job elsewhere.


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