According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in many major cities including Chicago. Nationally, the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes have increased from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, which is the most recent year data is available. That is a 13.9% increase over a three year period. However, overall traffic deaths fell 4.5% during the same period. In other words, the number of overall traffic deaths is not the basis for the steady increase.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost one in five of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-runs. The foundation believes that alcohol is a major factor in these instances. Another common factor includes individuals driving without valid driving privileges. Los Angeles reportedly has the highest rate of hit-and-run crashes. In 2009, LA Weekly reported that 48% of the city’s crashes were hit-and-run related, in contrast to 11% nationally.
Many states are continuing to enact stricter legislation and create harsher penalties. Under current Illinois law, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years in prison). If the driver leaves the scene and does not then report the accident to a police station within 30 minutes, they may be charged with a Class 2 felony (Class 1 if the accident results in death). A conviction results in the revocation of the defendant’s driving privileges. If you are involved in a hit-and-run or charged with leaving the scene of an accident of any kind, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S., www.usatoday.com, November 10, 2013