Every 43 seconds, somebody in the United States is involved in a hit-and-run crash.
That shocking statistic is pulled directly from a new AAA report that reveals 2016 (the most recent year on record) was the deadliest year for hit-and-runs to date, with 1,980 fatal accidents claiming 2,049 lives – a 60 percent increase since 2009.
The study, released last month, paints a grim picture of life on the road for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. According to researchers, pedestrians and cyclists make up nearly 65 percent of those killed by hit-and-run drivers, and 1 in 5 pedestrian deaths are due to hit-and-runs.
“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said in a press release. “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.”
Experts agree that the only surefire way to address this alarming reality is to work together to share the road. Whether you’re behind the wheel, biking, skating, or strolling, it’s absolutely essential to practice good habits and stay fully focused on the activity at hand. Here are some tips for staying safe:
- Always be aware. We’ve all swerved or changed direction at the last minute when walking — if you’re a driver, remember that pedestrians can act unpredictably, so always keep your eye on anyone close to the road.
- The same can be said for the flip side of that scenario. If you’re a cyclist or pedestrian, remember that drivers can’t read your mind, and they may not be prepared to handle any unexpected behavior. Be mindful of where you are and where you’re going.
- Patience is a virtue, and it’s a crucial one when you’re navigating the roads. If you’re a driver and you’re trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclists, always remain focused on them as you move, and leave plenty of room so you can safely navigate around them.
- This should go without saying, but always obey traffic signals and posted signs — jaywalking, speeding, and other illegal activities are recipes for disaster.
- Nothing is more frustrating than seeing someone wrongly cross in front of your car when you’re behind the wheel but remember that pedestrians always have the right of way — even when they walk into the street from an area other than a crosswalk. Avoid arguing or getting angry — just yield to them and carefully move on.
It’s important to know that it’s against the law for a driver involved in a hit-and-run to flee the scene. That applies to every state in the country, and Colorado specifically, as well as some cities in California have implemented Amber Alert-style messages to notify locals via text, email, television, and radio if a driver has fled the scene of a crash.
And of course, remaining safe on the road requires a car insurance plan that has your back. Find out more about Metromile’s many services and plans at www.metromile.com or call 1.888.242.5204 to get a free quote today.
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.