Hit-and-run crashes increasing, AAA researchers say

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

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.

Over the past 10 years, AAA researchers said, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes.

To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:

• Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.

• Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.

• Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.

• Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.

“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.”

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