At the beginning of this month, Connecticut State Police investigated a hit and run car crash that killed one person on I-84 near exit 2 in Danbury. Less than a week later, in Middletown, a person sought in a hit and run accident that resulted in a death last November was arrested. Just two weeks earlier, Bridgeport police made an arrest in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed an elderly man last June. If you have a sense that reports of hit-and-run accidents have increased in frequency, you’re correct.
Data compiled by the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety from 2006 to 2016, found there were 148 hit-and-run crashes involving at least one fatality in Connecticut. There also appeared to be a spike in fatalities from 2015, when there were 14 incidents, compared to 2016 where there were 24 such incidents.
Connecticut is not alone.
Hit and run crashes have killed more than 2,000 people in 2016, which equates to more than 1 such crash every minute on U.S. roads, according to a new study from AAA. That’s the highest number of these types of crashes on record and a 60% 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 to avoid a deadly crash and remain on the scene if a crash occurs.
In the study, AAA researchers found:
- An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred annually since 2006.
- Nearly 65% 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% each year since 2009.
In Connecticut over the six-year span, it was determined more than half of the fatal crashes occurred overnight, primarily on weekends, in the Fall. Earlier this year, a Connecticut man was sentenced to six years in prison for a hit-and-run that authorities say killed a mother after she pushed her 7-year-old daughter to safety in October 2016.
“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction, especially in Connecticut,” said Fran Mayko of AAA Northeast. “The analysis shows such crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation wants to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”
In all states, it’s the drivers legal and moral responsibility to avoid hitting pedestrians, bicyclists, or another vehicle; and leaving a crash scene significantly increases the penalties, whether or not the driver caused the crash, AAA emphasized.
In the US, state laws make it illegal for drivers involved in crashes to flee the scene. Penalties vary depending upon crash type and guilty parties may face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison. In Connecticut, drivers who hit a vulnerable user is required to stop, remain on the scene, render aid if necessary, and notify law enforcement.
In the latest analysis, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes on a per-capita basis while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates.