A new California law was quite controversial when it first came into action, but it turns out that it may have a key role in decreasing hit and run accidents across the state, according to a new study by Stanford University. The controversial law was part of an effort by state officials to provide additional services and rights to those California residents currently in the United States illegally. This led to more than 850,000 individuals obtaining driver’s licenses since the law took effect in 2015. Much of the support for this law was tied to the fact that people felt that undocumented immigrants would feel more comfortable staying at the scene of the accident rather than fleeing.

The Stanford study showed that there was a decrease in hit and run accidents in California by at least 7% across 2015, when compared with the year prior. A complex formula identified that there were 4,000 fewer hit and run accidents as a result of the new law. Department of Motor Vehicles has not released the information about who received new licenses on a county by county basis, however. The license is intended for those individuals who are not able to show legal resident status proof in the United States. Currently, California is not the only state across the country to have a similar law. 12 other states and the District of Columbia have similar fills and other states are currently debating them as well. New confidence on the road may be another additional side effect of allowing undocumented immigrants to have access to driver’s licenses.

Those individuals involved in hit and run accidents who may have been concerned getting in trouble for their undocumented status may have been more likely to leave the scene of the accident altogether. The study also finds that there was an economic benefit associated with the reduced hit and run accidents. Out of pocket expenses for car repairs were decreased by at least $3.5 million, according to the research study.

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