Despite Florida lawmakers’ actions to reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents, it has remained fairly steady. Hit-and-run accidents occur when an involved party leaves the scene of an accident. This type of accident can involve two vehicles; or a vehicle and pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist.
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles noted that in 2015, one in four accidents involving pedestrians is a hit-and-run situation, and pedestrians made up more than half of the hit-and-run accident fatalities. Designed by the Florida Highway Patrol, the “Bad to Worse” campaign educates the public that fleeing from a hit-and-run scene causes more serious penalties. The moment a person leaves the scene of an accident it becomes a felony crime. An accident resulting in injury is a 3rd degree felony, an accident resulting in serious bodily injury is a 2nd degree felony and an accident resulting in death is a 1st degree felony. A 1st degree felony comes with a minimum prison sentence of four years, and any of these charges results in drivers losing their licenses for at least three years.
The Sun Sentinel reported on the reasons why people leave the scene of a hit-and-run accident. The reason for fleeing is almost always due to fear. Those who know they have a warrant for their arrest or who are driving under the influence want to avoid immediate arrest. Others may be illegally in the country and be afraid of being deported. In some cases, people may not have insurance and worry about what will happen to them financially as a result of the accident.
Stopping this type of accident is very difficult for law enforcement. Officers cannot be on every scene right away. In some cases, they are not even notified until long after the accident occurs, especially when one party is seriously or fatally injured, and no witnesses are nearby. The legal penalties of a hit-and-run are really the only recourse law enforcement has to try to keep people at the scene of an accident.