Road shocker: A hit-and-run crash every minute

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According to the American Automobile Association, there is at least one hit-and-run crash on American roads every minute. 

In 2016, that translated into 2,049 deaths — the highest number ever in the U.S. 

Between 2009 and 2016, hit-and-run crashes increased 60 percent. 

Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, compared to just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period. 

In North Dakota, there have been 17 fatal hit-and-run crashes over the past decade. 

“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 all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.” 

After analyzing hit-and-run data, AAA researchers found: 

  • Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists. 

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

  • Per capita, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates. 

How can you, as a driver, minimize your chances of being involved in a hit-and-run accident? According to the AAA: 

  • Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point. 
  • Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections. 
  • Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space 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. 

Every state has laws making it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene. State penalties vary depending on the type of crash (i.e. property damage, injury, serious injury or a fatality). If found guilty, drivers can face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison. 

If you are involved in a crash, you should never leave the scene and follow the steps below: 

  • Assist the injured:  Check for injured people and call 911. 
  • Be visible:  Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. 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, if needed. 
  • Communicate:  Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a 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 Yang. “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.”

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