The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recognizes February as Hit and Run Awareness Month. This initiative seeks to reduce the number crashes involving hit and run drivers with supporters that include the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Department of Transportation.
The Numbers Are Shocking
Florida had seen the number of crashes that involved hit and run drivers remain steady for a few years until 2015 and 2016. While the problem was already of great concern,data shows that 2015 resulted in over 94,000 cases and 2016 there were over 99,000. Even though most hit and run crashes usually result in property damage, the last 2 years of collected data show that over 2,400 people have been injured and over 370 have been killed. Data further confirms that one out of every four pedestrian crashes is a hit and run crash.
Hit and Run incidences are not a problem just in Florida. Many states are also battling this problem. Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the number of fatal hit and run crashes nationally is trending upward from 1,274 in 2009, to 1393 in 2010, and to 1,499 in 2011, the most recent years for which statistics are available.
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Leaving the scene of an accident, or “hit and run”, is defined as the failure of a driver to stay at the scene of a vehicle crash resulting in property damage, bodily injury, or death. Campaigns like Stay at the Scene, focus on educating drivers on their responsibilities and the consequences they face if they are involved in a crash and leave the scene. These consequences include:
- A hit and run involving just property damage is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor and carries penalties of a $500 fine and up to sixty days in jail.
- If the crash involved personal injuries to another person, the offense is classified as a second or third-degree felony and carries penalties of a $5,00 fine and up to five years in prison or five years of probation.
- For crashes that involve the death of another person, the offense will be classified as first-degree felony and carries penalties of a $10,000 fine and up to thirty years in prison.
If a driver leaves the scene involving death or injury and the driver is found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol, the offense is subject to a mandatory minimum prison term of 2 years. In every Hit and Run case that involves death or injury, the offending driver will get his driver’s license revoked as determined by the court.
Hit and Run Awareness Month Plan
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is the agency in charge of providing highway security and safety information, among many other things, through campaigns like Hit and Run Awareness Month. Through popular forms of marketing like air mobile internet radio advertisements and location based targeted ads, the agency raises awareness that leaving a crash scene is could not only lead to the severe injury or a death of a person because of failure to provide immediate medical attention, it could also result in serious punitive measures. The FLHSMV is going further to host multiple press conferences throughout the month throughout the state.
If you learn nothing else, just remember this: Stay at the Scene. Even if you are at fault for a crash resulting in property damage, injury, or even death, the consequences of not doing so can be far worse than the ones drive your fear to push you to leave.