Hit and run accidents are more common than you may think, and recent evidence shows those numbers are increasing.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), the number of fatal hit and run crashes has been trending upward. In 2009, there were 1,274 fatal hit and run crashes nationwide. In 2011, the most recent year the NHSTA has collected data, that number rose to 1,449.
While there was an overall decrease in accidents during that three-year period, fatal hit and runs experienced an increase of 13.7%. In some areas of the country, like Los Angeles, nearly half of all accidents involved a driver who fled the scene.
Why Do People Run from Accidents?
Most of us, when involved in an accident, would greet the other driver, check for injuries, and exchange insurance information. Unfortunately, not everyone is as trustworthy. There are several reasons a person may flee the scene of an accident. Here are some of the most common:
Driving Under the Influence
Drugs and alcohol often play a role in hit and run accidents. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that alcohol plays a major role in hit and run fatalities involving pedestrians. These types of accidents make up 60% of all fatal hit and runs.
People fear retribution for their actions, though sometimes their conscience wins out. In a recent high profile case in Ohio, a 22-year old from Dublin confessed in an online video to killing a 61-year old man in a drunk driving accident. He is currently serving six and a half years in prison.
While alcohol plays a significant role in auto accidents, it’s not the only substance at play. Illicit drugs and even prescription drugs, like Ambien, can inhibit a person’s ability to drive.
Unlicensed or Uninsured Drivers
A motorist may also flee the scene of an accident if he or she lacks proper insurance or drives without a valid license. For example, someone who drives with a suspended or revoked license is more likely to run. A report by AAA found unlicensed drivers are 66 times more likely to be involved in a hit and run accident.
Offenders may also run if they’re breaking other laws: for example, if they were driving a stolen vehicle or participating in street racing at the time of the accident. Some people will do anything in the name of self-preservation, including fleeing from a bad accident.
Young or Immature Driver
Lastly, people may run because they lack the maturity to deal with the result of their actions. Some drivers may be too scared to stop, while others may think they can avoid responsibility because there were no witnesses.
What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of a Hit and Run Accident?
Being a victim in any accident is stressful, but a hit and run can be even worse. You don’t have any insurance information from the other driver, so you’ll have to enact your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to pay for any medical bills or property damage. Even with this coverage, you may not have enough to pay the full extent of your injuries.
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run, the most important thing you can do is file a police report. If you’ve been injured, the police will come to the scene; otherwise, you may need to visit your local precinct to file a report. Provide as much information as possible, even if you don’t have a license plate number.
Seek an Austin Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Today
Once the police find the perpetrator, hire a personal injury attorney. A settlement can help you recoup medical expenses and pay for general damages such as pain and suffering. Contact our Austin office today at Briggle & Polan, PLLC for a free initial consultation. 512-472-1926