Hit-and-run drivers are a road safety menace
Hit-and-run accidents in Washington and around the country account for more than 5% of the nation’s traffic accident fatalities, and the problem is getting worse. The number of people killed by hit-and-run drivers has increased by about 7.2% every year since 2009, and almost 65% of their victims are either cyclists or pedestrians according to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Hit-and-run drivers flee accident scenes because they are worried about what will happen when the police arrive. This may be because they are driving without a license or have open warrants, but it is usually because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The results of the AAA study suggest that impaired drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in hit-and-run accidents than sober motorists. The figures indicate that young men with prior DUI convictions are the drivers most likely to flee the scene of crashes.
Solving hit-and-run cases
Police departments rarely solve hit-and-run cases because evidence is often scant, and catching drivers who flee the scene of accidents is not a law enforcement priority unless accident injuries are serious or lives are lost. Studies have found that only about one in 10 hit-and-run drivers are apprehended, but that could change in the future. Advances in technology have made surveillance equipment far less expensive, and many motorists now have dashboard cameras installed in their vehicles.
More must be done
Hit-and-run deaths will continue to climb unless the police start to take these crimes more seriously. Motorists who flee the scene of car accidents fear law enforcement, which suggests that they are people the police would be interested in speaking with. Law enforcement can now use surveillance, dashboard and even doorbell camera footage to catch hit-and-run drivers, so there really is no excuse for such a low clearance rate.