Hit-and-run accidents are increasing at an alarming rate, according to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In the United States, a hit-and-run collision occurs roughly every 43 seconds.
Hit-and-run crashes led to a record 2,049 fatalities in 2016, according to the AAA report, with pedestrians and bicyclists representing a majority of the deaths. At least 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths over the past decade can be linked to hit-and-run collisions.
This surge in fatal hit-and-runs has caused many communities in Cincinnati and across Ohio to rally for stricter laws and more thorough investigations.
Hit-and-Runs: A Growing Concern in Ohio
Based on comprehensive accident data from 2016, Ohio ranked 8th in the nation for the most hit-and-run crashes involving at least one fatality. According to statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were 1,179 traffic fatalities in the state in 2017; more than 140 of those fatalities were pedestrians.
Sadly, those numbers are climbing, and there seem to be multiple reasons why. Ohio’s population density and some notoriously dangerous intersections in the state’s metro areas are two contributing factors.
Distracted driving is believed to play an increasing role in hit-and-run crashes. In some cases, distracted pedestrians and bikers who aren’t paying adequate attention to their surroundings are also to blame for collisions.
Addressing Hit-and-Run Accidents
It’s believed that only about half of all hit-and-run drivers are eventually identified. But this has not discouraged the Ohio Legislature from attempting to prevent hit-and-runs.
Previously, drivers who fled the scene of an accident in Ohio could face only misdemeanor charges. However, a recently passed law makes it a felony to flee the scene of a crash that resulted in serious injuries or death.
Even with this new law, some believe that local municipalities and law enforcement should increase their focus on pedestrian safety in an effort to reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents in the state. These advocates argue that police should enforce traffic laws more often by slowing down drivers and cities should plan for the redesign of streets to give pedestrians and bicyclists more space.
Hit-and-Run Accidents in Indiana and Kentucky
Ohio isn’t the only state with a growing number of hit-and-run accidents. Indiana has also seen a sharp increase in hit-and-run accidents, with numbers exceeding those in Ohio.
There were over 5,500 hit-and-run reports in Indiana in 2017. Many families of hit-and-run victims in Indiana have lobbied for stronger punishments when drivers flee the scene of an accident, especially if there are fatalities involved. Indiana’s governor recently signed a bill into law that strengthens penalties for drivers responsible for fatal hit-and-run accidents.
With 83 hit-and-run pedestrian fatalities reported in 2017, many in Kentucky have also begun to consider if their own laws regarding hit-and-run accidents are stringent enough. The state currently considers leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident a misdemeanor, unless a death or serious physical injury is involved, at which point it becomes a felony.
Experienced Hit-and-Run Lawyers in Cincinnati
Unfortunately, no amount of legislation will stop hit-and-runs completely. But if you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident, working with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights and your ability to pursue compensation.
In some cases, an experienced attorney may be able to use the evidence available to track down and identify the at-fault driver. In other circumstances, a lawyer may be able to help secure a just settlement from your own insurance provider.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a hit-and-run crash, please call the accomplished injury attorneys at Young, Reverman & Mazzei at 800-721-1678 or contact us online for a free consultation. We’re dedicated to helping injury victims from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, areas as well as from Campbell County, Boone County and Kenton County in Kentucky, and Dearborn County in Indiana. Please see our locations page for a complete list of our offices and directions.