Hit-and-Run Deaths Hit Record High

COLUMBUS, Ohio (April 26, 2018) – More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 – the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase from 2009. With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to remain alert on the roads, and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.

AAA Foundation researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found that during the 10-year study period:

An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006, and that number is rising.

Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge, and the AAA Foundation would like to work with stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”

The report found most victims (65 percent) of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians. During the 10-year study period, hit-and-run crashes caused nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths, compared to just 1 percent of all driver fatalities. To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:

Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and walk into the path of traffic at any point.

Be cautious: Look out for small children, and be alert to areas where pedestrians frequent. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.

Be patient: When trying to pass pedestrians or cyclists, give them at least three feet of clearance and keep them in your line of sight.

Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.

“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or other vehicle,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers – whether they caused the crash or not.”

Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal in every state. In Ohio, motorists involved in a crash must remain on the scene, notify police and provide appropriate information. Failure to do so may result in up to a six-month license suspension. The state considers hit-and-run crashes that result in property damage a 1st degree misdemeanor and fatal hit-and-run crashes a 3rd degree felony.

Regardless of the state law, drivers involved in a crash should always remain on the scene and:

Assist the injured: Check for injured people and call 911.

Be visible: Make sure the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic and use flares or reflectors. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive.

Communicate: Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting the local police department or your automobile insurance agency.

“By working together, we can bring awareness and identify potential solutions to reduce hit-and-run fatalities,” said Dr. Yang. “We can’t forget that cars can be deadly when they come into contact with pedestrians, cyclists or other cars. It is incumbent on each and every one of us to stay alert, be aware of our surroundings and always stay on the scene if involved in a crash.”

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.