COLUMBUS (WCMH/WFLA) A new report shows deaths from hit and run crashes are at an all time high nationwide and Ohio is near the top of the list.
Ohio ranked 8th for the highest number of hit-and-run crashes involving at least one fatality in 2016. During that time there were 61 hit-and-run crashes in the state that resulted in a fatality.
California, Texas, and Florida topped the list.
The dangers of leaving the scene of an accident go far beyond the legal consequences.
“It’s illegal in every state to leave the scene of a crash,” said Jake Nelson of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which released the study. “But more importantly if you stay and assist those affected you could save a life or prevent the injuries sustained by that individual from becoming more serious.”
What’s so alarming is that the number of deaths from hit and run crashes is moving in the wrong direction.
There are about 685,000 hit and run crashes every year in the U.S.
In 2016, the last year for which the comprehensive data was available, 2,049 people were killed in a hit-and-run crash.
That number is up 60 percent from 2009 to 2016.
Sixty-five percent of those deaths were people walking or riding a bicycle.
There’s no concrete data on why the numbers have increased so much, but experts believe both drivers and walkers/cyclists aren’t paying close enough attention.
“Make sure you are more visible to other motorists on the road, that you are extra alert to your surroundings so that you can get out of the way of an oncoming car if you need to,” said Nelson.
One of the reasons people leave the scene is because unfortunately, they often get away with it. Previous studies show only about half of all hit-and-run drivers are eventually identified.
And it’s not just the drivers being irresponsible — 34 percent of pedestrians killed in hit-and-runs were found to have a blood alcohol concentration level more than 0.08, according to a 2017 study.