There’s a troubling trend on our nation’s roads: the number of hit-and-run fatalities has risen since 2006 by a considerable amount. The American Automobile Association (AAA) conducted the research that uncovered the rising trend after analyzing traffic data from 2006 through 2016. In the state of Texas, there was a 30 percent rise just from 2015 to 2016. Weslaco police reported the average rose from 200 to 250 hit-and-run crashes a year.
Eric Hernandez of the Weslaco Police Department points to a possible correlation between the trend and Texas’ high rate of DWI, saying “A lot of times these hit-and-run incidents occur because somebody is intoxicated.” Lack of insurance, no valid license, or a fear of prosecution are other common reasons for a driver to flee the scene of an accident.
The 30 percent rise from 2015 to 2016 moves our state into the Top 10 for the amount of hit-and-runs that occur annually. New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida make up the top three states with the highest per capita rates of hit-and-runs. The lowest per capita rates belong to New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota.
Texas is part of a nationwide trend
Texas is not experiencing this rise in hit-and-run accidents alone, as the nationwide rates have also increased. From 2006 to 2016, there was an annual average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes. Over this same time period, 20 percent of total pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to hit-and-run accidents. The crash rate increased an average of 7.2 percent each year from 2009 to 2016, and there was also a 60 percent increase in fatalities. This comes out to a hit-and-run accident happening multiple times each minute, each day, on American roads.
To decrease your chances of being involved in an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist, who are especially vulnerable to injury or death when struck by a vehicle, follow these tips:
- Be aware: Pedestrians may walk out into a street with very little warning.
- Be cautious: Areas like school zones and bus stops are much more likely to have pedestrians, especially those in a rush. Look out for people and small children.
- Be patient: Pedestrians and bicyclists should be given more space when a driver is passing them at a reduced speed.
- Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians and cyclists, even those crossing in areas other than crosswalks or other designated areas.
If you are involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, do not leave the scene. The penalties vary by state, but in Texas, committing a hit-and-run carries the same penalty as Intoxicated Manslaughter. Instead, follow these tips:
- Assist the injured: Check for injured people and call 911.
- Be visible: Make the scene visible to oncoming drivers and avoid further collisions.
- Communicate: Call the police and file a report or visit your local police station if an officer doesn’t arrive.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, get an experienced Texas car accident lawyer on your side. Get Chad E. Jones.