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Growing Concern Over Hit and Run Fatalities

A man was charged the other day in a fatal hit and run accident in New Caney, Texas just outside of Houston, Texas. The article stated that the suspect will face a felony charge as his SUV failed to yield the right of way and collided with a motorcycle, leaving the 18-year-old motorcyclist lying on the road. The suspect failed to stop and render aid to the victim and instead drove off. Officials stated the road was dark when a pickup truck, driven by a third party, was unable to stop and hit the victim who then died at the scene.

“The problem is bigger than I think most people are aware.”

Peter Kissinger (President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)

Hit and run crashes have become strikingly common as their numbers have steadily risen over the past couple of years. Tragedies like the one mentioned above send us a chilling reminder of how deadly these accidents can turn. The Insurance Information Institute released a report showing that 1 in 5 pedestrians killed on roadways in America was due to hit and runs. Whether or not it was the victims’ fault or that of the driver, the lack of being able to identify the aggressor or associate a face leaves many families at a standstill in their grieving process. Along with shock, anger and questions can emerge especially if a fatality is involved, leaving many people asking the question of why they left in the first place. It can say a lot about a person’s true character on how they handle a situation, especially when they are responsible for someone’s death.

So why do they run away?

Here’s a list explaining a few reasons:

  • Drunk driving, drowsy driving, drugs, or distracted
  • Unlicensed driver, or uninsured
  • Secret to keep, Social status to uphold, stolen vehicle, street racing
  • Aggressive driving, or age (immature/irresponsible)

Perhaps it’s the feeling of guilt, shame, or even panic that leads them to such an irrational decision. Even if the driver is not at fault, why would someone risk turning a tragic accident into a crime? Well here is a thought. In many states across the U.S., there are laws in which leaving the scene of an accident penalizes you less than if you were driving drunk or under the influence of a drug. Because of the rise in hit and run crashes, there has been a push for stronger, tougher laws in states with the highest rates of resulting deaths.

In Texas, legislators have moved to close a ‘loophole’ that authorities say has encouraged intoxicated drivers involved in accidents to flee the scene. Before, the maximum penalty for failing to render aid was just half that for causing a death in a drunk driving crash. However, on September 1st 2013, the state raised the penalty from a third degree which had a maximum of 10 years in prison, to a second-degree felony with a maximum of up to 20 years in prison, the same as intoxicated manslaughter (House Bill 72, Senate Bill 275). Maybe with this revision of the law, drivers will think twice about running away and instead handle the situation responsibly. If ever you or someone you know has been a victim or a part of a hit and run incident, seek immediate help and call the lawyers at Herrman and Herrman, P.L.L.C., to begin resolving your situation.