n Tennessee, the number of hit-and-run accident deaths has increased as more people are choosing to ride their bicycles or walk as a means of transportation. Drivers tend to flee the scene when accidents happen at night or in areas in which they are less likely to be caught. It is illegal for drivers to leave the scene of accidents, fail to report accidents, or fail to give aid to the victims. If hit-and-run drivers are caught, they may face severe criminal penalties. The victims of hit-and-run drivers or the families of people who are killed may also hold them accountable for their actions in civil cases.
Hit-and-Run Death Rates
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, deaths in hit-and-run accidents have increased by 62 percent since 2009. In 2016, 2,049 people in the U.S. were killed in hit-and-run accidents, and 68 percent of the deaths involved pedestrians or cyclists. During the same time period, more people are choosing to ride their bicycles or to walk to work.
When Hit-and-Run Accidents Occur
Hit-and-run accidents are likelier to happen at night or in areas where the drivers are less likely to be seen. A greater percentage of the accidents occur between midnight and 4 a.m. and on roads that have lower speed limits. More fatal hit-and-run accidents also happen in places that have a lot of foot traffic.
According to Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, smartphones are playing a significant role in the number of hit-and-run accidents. While Nelson suggests bike lanes and walkways that are protected by barriers as a solution, critics claim that these wreak havoc on parking and travel lanes for drivers.
Drivers who leave the scenes of fatal accidents may face long prison sentences if they are caught. Despite the potential penalties, the number of accidents has still increased. Drivers should make certain to watch for pedestrians on the sides of the roads who might cross. If pedestrians cross the road, drivers should slow down and stop even if the pedestrians aren’t in crosswalks. Drivers should also give cyclists enough room when they pass. Pedestrians and cyclists should watch for cars and take steps to avoid them.