Fatal hit-and-run accidents are soaring to record levels

A recent report by the AAA shows that hit-and-run fatalities are at an all-time high across the U.S.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report recently that shows that hit-and-run accidents are climbing at a disturbingly rapid rate, according to the New York Daily News. The vast majority of victims of such motor vehicle accidents are pedestrians and cyclists. While hit-and-run fatalities have been rising consistently nationwide in recent years, in New York they have fluctuated between the low 50s and the high 70s for the past decade. Safety experts say that distracted driving combined with drunk driving is likely the main reason hit-and-run accidents are on the rise.

Hit-and-run deaths increasing

The AAA report shows that, since 2006, U.S. hit-and-run fatalities have risen an average of seven percent each year. The average number of hit-and-run crashes each year is a staggering 682,000, according to The Journal News. In 2016, the most recent year for which reliable figures are available, 2,049 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents, which is the highest number on record.

In New York, the figures are a bit more complicated. In recent years, hit-and-run deaths in the state have fluctuated, hitting a low of 50 in 2009 and a high of 77 in 2011. While in 2016, New York hit-and-run deaths were at 59, the year before that they were on the high end at 72. The figures suggest that hit-and-run fatalities are largely stuck within a certain range in New York, with long-term figures showing them neither decreasing nor increasing.

Distracted driving likely to blame

The vast majority (65 percent) of victims of hit-and-run accidents are either pedestrians or cyclists. Such victims are not only harder to see on the road and thus more vulnerable than those in motor vehicles, they are also more likely to suffer serious injuries or death when hit by a car or truck.

Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in every state, with penalties having generally been increased in recent years. Despite those tougher penalties, the above data shows that hit-and-run accidents are not abating. One likely explanation is that these accidents are increasing because of distracted driving. Drivers who are less focused on the road are also less likely to notice pedestrians and cyclists.

The data also shows that drivers who leave the scene of an accident are two to nine times more likely than other drivers to have been intoxicated at the time. Such drivers are also more likely to have a history of DUI arrests and license suspensions.

Personal injury law

For those who have been injured in an accident, getting legal help can be an important step on the road to recovery. A personal injury attorney can advise accident victims about what options they have, including the possibility of pursuing financial compensation to help cover many of the costs related to their accident.