Providing driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants in California improves traffic safety

Report Author: 
Hans Luedersa, Jens Hainmuellera and Duncan Lawrence
Original Date of Publication: 
2016 Nov

This paper presents an analysis of the impact of a law passed in California (AB60) providing driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants. In addition to other concerns, opponents of the law suggested that providing these individuals with driver's licenses would increase the number of car accidents generally, and hit-and-run accidents in particular.  The study's authors conducted a statistical analysis of accidents in 2015 (the first year AB60 was implemented) at the county-by-county level, which allowed them to account for regional differences in the number of AB60 licenses being issued.  Their analysis found that the implementation of AB60 had no impact on the overall number of accidents, but was seen to be correlated with a reduction of hit-and-run accidents. They calculate that 4,000 fewer of these accidents occurred because of AB60.  The paper provides an explanation of the multiple regression models they used and potential explanations for the changes (e.g., having a driver's license and insurance reduces the chances an unauthorized immigrant driver will feel compelled to flee the scene of a hit-and-run accident to avoid deportation).  The authors conclude that accident-based concerns about the impact of providing authorized immigrants with driver's licenses are not supported by the data, and that the law might have saved not-at-fault drivers in hit-and-run accidents about $3,500,000.  They caution that the study only looked at one year and that the long-term impact can not be extrapolated from this study.  (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)View or download the report. Get more information from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


Lueders, H., Jens Hainmuellera and Duncan Lawrence (2017). Providing Driver’s Licenses to Unauthorized Immigrants in California Improves Traffic Safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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