The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) recognizes Feb. 15-19 as Hit and Run Awareness Week in an effort to highlight the impacts of leaving the scene of a crash and reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida.
In 2015, there were more than 92,000 hit and run crashes in Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol alone worked 23,333 of these crashes. Each year, the percent of hit and run crashes hold steady, which means the problem of drivers fleeing the scene isn’t getting better. Last year, hit and run crashes resulted in more than 19,000 injuries and 186 fatalities. Vulnerable road users are particularly at risk and in 2015, more than half of the hit and run fatalities were pedestrians. Approximately one out of every four pedestrian crashes resulted in the driver leaving the scene.
“The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stresses to each driver, if you are in a crash, do not leave the scene,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Remaining on the scene will not only spare a driver significant legal penalties, but may save a life.”
“People leave the scene of a crash for several reasons,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “They are scared, they may be impaired, they may have a suspended driver’s license or they may not have insurance. No matter what the reason, as a driver, it is your responsibility to remain at the crash scene to respond and help anyone who’s injured.”
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. If a driver flees the scene, the situation becomes even worse. Leaving the scene of a crash with injury or death 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. Last year, 18-27 year olds were charged with more than a third of all hit and run crashes, 70 percent of which were issued to males. The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to remain at the scene and call for help. DHSMV encourages drivers to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and their mind on driving.