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AAA Study Shows Rise in Hit-and-Run Accidents, Especially Among Bicyclists and Pedestrians


Last month, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report documenting the steady increase in fatal hit-and-run accidents nationwide. According to the study, hit-and-run collisions have been trending in the wrong direction since 2006, and reached their highest numbers on record in 2016. Here are a few key points noted by researchers:

  • In 2016, the last year analyzed by the study, there were 2,049 deaths involving hit-and-run accidents across the U.S. – a 60% increase since 2009.
  • With an average of more than 680,000 hit-and-run wrecks every year over the past decade, the numbers equate to over one hit-and-run collision every minute on American roadways (including injury and non-injury crashes).
  • Close to 65% of all victims killed in a hit-and-run collision are bicyclists or pedestrians.
  • In the Washington, DC Metro area, 228 people died from 2013 to 2016 in crashes where the driver left the scene.

Learning From the Numbers

Because the data paints a grim picture regarding roadway safety, digging deeper can help us understand where these risks exist, and how they can be reduced. For example, experts and safety advocates cite a several possible reasons for the rise in hit-and-run accidents:

Some of the most pressing issues for why a motorist may be involved in a hit-and-run car accident can be avoided when drivers prioritize safety behind the wheel. That means avoiding distractions, driving sober, and purchasing at least the minimum auto insurance coverage required by law. It also means obeying laws that require drivers to stop at the scene of an accident (both injury and property damage accidents) and render aid if necessary. Fleeing the scene of a wreck is a crime, and it can result in criminal charges and penalties when drivers are apprehended.

Additionally, there are steps bicyclists and pedestrians can take to protect themselves from becoming a statistic. These include:

  • Vigilance – Being vigilant on the road is important for anyone, and especially so for those who travel by bike or by foot. Be sure to travel in safe areas, including marked bike lanes, bike paths, and sidewalks, and to always be aware of your surroundings (distraction free) when you do share the road with motor vehicles.
  • See and Be Seen – Because pedestrians and bicyclists can be easily overseen by negligent motorists, it is vital to ensure you are seen. This means being aware of blind spots and potential areas where drivers may not see you, as well as making eye contact with motorists to ensure they know your presence before you proceed through any intersection, exit a parking lot, or make a right- or left-hand turn, even if you have the right of way. You can also wear bright and reflective gear or clothes, carry a flashlight and install lights on your bicycle, and travel on well-lit paths and roads whenever possible.

Protecting Your Right to Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Crash

Hit-and-run crashes not only have the potential to harm victims physically – they can also compromise their right to recover the financial compensation to which they are entitled. That’s because personal injury and wrongful death cases are filed against an at-fault party, and that party must be located in order to pursue a case. Even if a driver is located, there isn’t always a guarantee that they’ll be insured, or that they’ll have enough insurance to cover the full scope of a victim’s damages.

Due to these risks, hit-and-run accidents serve as an important reminder that unexpected and challenging experiences can (and, as the numbers show, often do) happen. As such, you can take steps to protect yourself by purchasing uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage (UM / UIM) as part of your auto insurance. This coverage can ensure you’ll have the means to recover compensation for things like medical expenses and lost wages when a hit-and-run driver can’t be found, or when they are uninsured or headed to jail with little financial resources. As personal injury lawyers, we know UM / UIM coverage is absolutely vital in these situations, and it can make the difference when it matters most.

Hit-and-run wrecks can also remind us about taking the right steps after an accident, such as immediately calling police (which can help in locating a suspect), noting as many details as possible about the vehicle and driver that fled the scene, and getting all names and contact information of witnesses who saw what happened.

Whether you have UM / UIM coverage or not (or will soon look into it after reading this blog), you can work with experienced personal injury lawyers who can help you explore the most appropriate path toward recovering your damages. Depending on the circumstances, this may require working with law enforcement as they locate and arrest a driver, holding a commercial company or trucking operator liable when their employees flee the scene of a wreck, or filing claims with your own insurance company if you have UM / UIM coverage, among others.

Contact CSCS for a FREE Case Evaluation

Hit-and-run wrecks are negligent, unlawful, and potentially devastating acts, and they can create significant challenges for injured victims and families who want to assert their legal rights. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our award-winning car accident attorneys are available to help residents throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia after they are harmed in all types of traffic accidents, including bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents, and those where motorists fled the scene. In fact, our firm has extensive experience with these types of accidents, and is a proud sponsor of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). Over the years, we have worked with the organization to present at community workshops and further their mission of making local roads safer places for cyclists.

By calling our firm, we can review your case free of charge and discuss your available options. Call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.