DETROIT – Deadly hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in the United States, according to a new study by AAA.
The study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found hit-and-run crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 -- the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009.
Today, more than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, AAA said.
AAA researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found:
- 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.
- Per capita, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates.
Just this week, a man in Detroit was charged in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed an 8-year-old boy. Stephen Williams is accused of striking Brandon Starks on Thursday while driving on Fort Street. Police said the boy was pulling his wagon while going to a nearby park.
Investigators said they got a lot of tips in the case, which helped lead to the arrest. Williams is charged with reckless driving causing death, operating with a suspended license causing death and failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at-fault resulting in death.
“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”
The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, compared to just one percent of all vehicle deaths resulting from hit-and-run crashes.
“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Susan Hiltz, Michigan public affairs director, AAA – The Auto Club Group . “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.”
Every state has laws that make it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene. State penalties vary depending on the type of crash (i.e. property damage, injury, serious injury or a fatality). If found guilty, drivers can face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison.
Here's Michigan law according to the state's vehicle code:
(1) The driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he has been involved in an accident upon public or private property that is open to travel by the public shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall remain there until the requirements of section 619 are fulfilled or immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer to fulfill the requirements of section 619(a) and (b) if there is a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene will result in further harm. The stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(2) If an individual violates the requirements of subsection (1) and the accident results in damage to a vehicle operated by or attended by any individual, the individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $100.00, or both.
But if you kill someone, you could face charges such as reckless driving causing death and failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at-fault resulting in death.