One of the functions of government is to do its best to keep residents safe. When it comes to driving, this not only means making sure that the roads are in good physical condition, but also regulating the rules of the road. This comes down not only to what people can and cannot do behind the wheel, but also who is entitled to driving privileges in the first place.

It’s only fair that if the state has laws regarding who may have driver’s licenses, then cities and other municipalities should do what they can to make sure those laws are upheld. Unfortunately, a decade of oversights have led to tens of thousands of people being allowed to drive when they should have had their licenses suspended — making all of us on the road potentially more vulnerable to car accidents.

When someone is convicted of a drug-related crime in Pennsylvania, such as possession or distribution of narcotics, the court where that conviction occurs is supposed to notify the state transportation department, which then suspends the licenses of those people. However, for more than 10 years, officials in Philadelphia failed to do so, meaning the DOT had no inkling that those drivers should lose their driving privileges. In 2012 alone, this amounted to more than 11,400 cases.

A newspaper investigation found at least two fatal car accidents that had been caused by drivers who should have had their licenses suspended because of drug convictions. The city has said it will go back to report the people it missed — but only cases since the beginning of 2013.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Drug convicts, unreported by Phila., have kept driving,” Mark Fazlollah, Dylan Purcell, and Craig R. McCoy, April 28, 2014