Cowards Fleeing Fatal Car Crashes at Record Rate

More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

These crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 -- the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009. 

With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to be alert on the road in order to avoid a deadly crash and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.

Texas ranks No. 8 in the country among states with the highest hit-and-run crashes. 

Neighboring Louisiana is tied for and Florida have the nation's highest per-capita fatal hit-and-run crash rate.

AAA researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found that:

--An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.

--Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.

--Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge."

The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period.

"It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers- whether they caused the crash or not."

Texas and all other states have laws that make it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene.  If found guilty, drivers can face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison.

If a driver is involved in a crash, they should never leave the scene and follow the steps below:

Assist the injured- Check for injured people and call 911.

Be visible- Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.

Communicate- Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.

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