More than one hit-and-run accident occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
In 2016, these types of accidents resulted in 2,049 deaths, which is the highest recorded number and a 60 percent increase since 2009.
Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise in Ohio as well, with a 26 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.
Fatal hit-and-run accidents in Ohio were 39 in 2012-13, 35 in 2014, 45 in 2015, and 57 in 2016 (and 7,032 injuries.)
Because such incidents are on the rise, AAA is suggesting to drivers to be alert. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, AAA suggests you follow these steps:
1. Assist the injured and call 911.
2. Make sure the scene is visible to approaching vehicles. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive.
3. Call police and file a report. If police do not come to the scene, you can visit a local police department or your automobile insurance agency and file a report.
Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said, "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."
AAA found these common characteristics of hit-and-run accidents:
- An average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents have occurred nationwide each year since 2006,
- Nearly 65 percent of fatalities in such accidents were pedestrians or bicyclists (nearly 20 percent were pedestrian deaths in the past decade),
- Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009,
- New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run accidents. New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota have the lowest rates.
"Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction," Yang said.
To decrease the chances of being involved in an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:
- Be aware: Pedestrians can walk into a vehicle’s path at any point
- Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians, including school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections
- Be patient: Give a pedestrian or cyclist plenty of space when you’re trying to pass
- Be vigilant: Always yield to pedestrians.
"It is every driver's legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” AAA spokeswoman Cindy Antrican said. “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."
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