Hit-and-run crashes on Florida roads rise in 2021; FLHSMV urges drivers to stay at the scene
Press release from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
February is Hit-and-Run Awareness Month in Florida, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are leading the state’s “Stay at the Scene” campaign to prevent these crashes, reduce fatalities and injuries, and bring justice to families impacted by these crimes.
FLHSMV’s data analysis paints a worrying trend in hit-and-run crashes in Florida. In 2021, the total number of hit-and-run crashes across the state increased by more than 17% compared to 2020. In that same comparison, fatalities from hit-and-runs were up over 18%, and serious bodily injuries from hit-and-runs were up 20%.
Additionally, 169 of the hit-and-run fatalities in 2021 were pedestrians and 45 were bicyclists, totaling 70% of hit-and-run fatalities last year. By comparison, in 2020, 140 hit-and-run fatalities were pedestrians and 27 were bicyclists.
“Hit-and-run crashes and fatalities are tragically on the rise in our state – causing devastation to Florida’s families and communities,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Drivers who choose to flee after being involved in a crash that results in property damage, injury, or death are not just breaking the law – they are displaying a blatant disregard for the life and property of others. Please, stay at the scene and call for help – it could save a life.”
According to the Homicide Investigation Tracking System (HITS) there were 131 hit-and-run fatalities handled by FHP in 2021, up from 124 in 2020, of which 91 are still active. These cases are ongoing with varying degrees of leads and forthcoming charges. Information about open hit-and-run cases can be found on FLHSMV’s Active Hit-and-Run Cases webpage.
“If you are involved in a traffic crash, it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s your responsibility to remain at the scene and immediately contact law enforcement,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Colonel Gene Spaulding. “With hit-and-run crashes on the rise, we need the public’s assistance in solving these cases and bringing justice to families who have lost a loved one, been injured, or had property damaged because someone left the scene in violation of Florida law.”
Even a small tip can help solve a hit-and-run case. If you have information on a hit-and-run crash, you can report it by calling *FHP (*347) or report it anonymously to Florida Crime Stoppers by calling **TIPS (**8477) or through the Florida Crime Stoppers smartphone phone app, available free in the Apple and Google Play stores.
President of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and Executive Director of Manatee County Crime Stoppers Frank Brunner said, “The Florida Association of Crime Stoppers is committed to making Florida a safer place by assisting law enforcement in the gathering of critical information regarding criminal activity such as hit-and-run cases. Through our statewide number, **TIPS (**8477), and our Florida Crime Stoppers smartphone app, any member of the public can easily and anonymously report a crime and could be eligible for a cash reward for information leading to an arrest.”
“At the Florida Department of Transportation, providing a safe transportation system is both paramount and integral to our mission. We are constantly deploying new strategies to ensure the safety of Florida’s road users as we work toward our goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “However, if a crash occurs, it is imperative to stay at the scene and contact the authorities. Safe behavior begins before a crash but taking the right steps after a crash can also save lives.”
“If you are involved in a traffic crash, you must remain at the scene. Hit and run crashes violate the law and often lead to criminal penalties. They also hamper law enforcement and drain resources because of prolonged investigations. On behalf of all Florida sheriffs, I fully support the Stay at the Scene Campaign,” said Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.
“On behalf of all our members at the Florida Police Chiefs Association, I fully support and endorse the Stay at the Scene Campaign,” said Stephan Dembinsky, Chief of Daytona Beach Shores Police Department and FPCA President. “Being involved in a vehicular accident is traumatic, but don’t make it worse by making a poor decision and intentionally leaving the scene of a crash. Please, Stay at the Scene, save yourself and possibly the life of another.”
“Leaving the scene of a crash risks the lives of others and jeopardizes your freedom,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Do the right thing. Get safely out of traffic and call for help.”
Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in property damage, injury, or death. Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony, and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison. For more information on the “Stay at the Scene” campaign, including data, downloadable materials, and additional resources, please visit FLHSMV’s Hit-and-Run Awareness webpage.
I wonder how many can be attributed to knuckleheads driving with masks on…ALONE!
Seriously, it’s a shame but how many can be attributed to distracted drivers? There’s a whole lot of texting and driving going on. With calls to defund the police – there’s no enforcement.
Some people get they ask for.