Number of Hit and Run Crashes Increasing, State Says
The state Department of Highway Safety has begun an educational campaign designed to decrease the number of hit and run incidents.
TAMPA BAY – The number of hit and run crashes in Florida has increased every year since 2013, according to figures from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The data has prompted the DHSMV to designate February as Hit and Run Awareness Month in an effort to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in the state. The initiative, Stay at the Scene, is in partnership with the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Department of Transportation and AAA – the Auto Club Group.
“All motorists involved in a crash must be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with state law,” DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said. “Motorists are required to stay at the scene, provide certain information to the other parties involved and contact necessary law enforcement and first responders. These actions may save a life.”
Staying at the scene is not only the law, but ensures that those impacted by a crash are safely assisted. In 2016, there were 99,004 hit and run crashes in Florida with 15,851 resulting charges. Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in injury or death. Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison.
“Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a crime,” Florida Highway Patrol Director Col. Gene Spaulding said. “It is your responsibility to remain at the scene and immediately report the accident to law enforcement. You should do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the crash and wait for emergency first responders to arrive.”
Vulnerable road users, like bicyclists and pedestrians, are particularly at risk for drivers leaving the scene. In fact, of the 179 hit and run fatalities in 2016, more than 55 percent were pedestrians. During that same period, 18 to 28 year olds received over one third of all hit and run charges issued. And 70 percent of those charges were filed against males.
“Leaving the scene of a crash is dangerous, and it can be deadly. Help our officers render aid and protect lives by making the responsible decision to remain at the scene and immediately contact first responders,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Albert (Butch) Arenal, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Don’t make a bad situation even worse by leaving – it’s a felony.”
The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to Stay at the Scene and call for help. The public is encouraged to report hit and run crashes by dialing *FHP (*347). For more information on hit and runs and staying at the scene, go to flhsmv.gov.
Go to the department’s website for a full list of active hit and run cases. If the public has any information on these open cases, please contact the Florida Highway Patrol immediately.
Florida Highway Patrol | Hit and Run | Traffic | Traffic Crash | TB Reporter
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