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Fatal hit-and-run collisions increase 13.7 percent in 2 years

A fatal motor vehicle accident not only ends one life, but forever alters the lives of the friends and family that loved the victim. It is fairly safe to assume that any New York resident would like to see the number of these horrific accidents go down. Good news, it has been doing just that over the past few years.

In 2009, there were 33,883 traffic fatalities that occurred on roads and highways across the United States. In 2011, that number was totaled at 32,367 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. That was a 4.5 percent reduction in just two years, but safety experts say that there is a scary problem hidden in that data.

The total number of traffic deaths may be decreasing across the nation, but in the same time period noted above the number of fatal hit-and-run accidents increased by an incredible 13.7 percent. In 2009, there were a total of 1,274 lives lost in this type of fatal accident. By 2011, that number had risen to 1,449 deaths.

Why the difference in these statistics? Some safety experts, like Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, believe that alcohol is a major factor. Sara Solnic, the chairwoman of the Department of Economics at the University of Vermont agreed. She noted that “drivers are more likely to run if they feel there is a reason to do so.”

Alcohol is one of these cited reasons. Another motive may be that an individual was driving on a suspended or revoked license at the time of a crash. Another factor may even be the age of a driver; a younger individual may be more likely to panic.

Whatever the reason, driving away from an accident where injury has occurred is a serious decision with serious consequences. In a civil lawsuit for compensation, it is this type of action that could act as the basis for punitive damages depending on the jurisdiction.

Source: USA Today, “Fatal hit-and-run crash on rise in U.S.,” Larry Copeland, Nov. 10, 2013

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