Talk to anyone who has been driving for more than two years and the chances are they have been in an accident (either they caused it or they were hit). Except for severe cases, there is a protocol to be followed after an accident happens. Put on your hazard lights, pull over (or follow the car in front of you), get out of the car, make sure everyone is okay, exchange your information, and maybe call the police. Seems easy enough, right? Even if you skip a few steps of the protocol, it is alright; but not pulling over and driving off (aka a hit and run) is NEVER acceptable. In fact, if caught after fleeing from the scene the person’s driver’s license can be revoked for a lifetime, and sentenced to jail. Also the moment one party leaves an accident without stopping, it is no longer an accident, but a crime scene. Now you might be thinking: why is she talking about a hit and run? Isn’t this an AP Government blog? Well, originally I was going to blog about something else, but yesterday I was in a hit and run accident. While the person did not cause too much damage, the fact that the person would flee the scene irks me to no end. This irritation lead me to find statistics about hit and run accidents, and what the government is doing to stop them.
Police report that 11% of accidents reported each year are hit and runs. What is even scarier is that a majority of these hit and runs are cases where pedestrians are struck, and that has resulted in 1500 deaths annually in the United States. Why would people run? According to law websites, it a myriad of emotion: shock, fear, shame, that causes a person to flee from the scene of the crime. They could also already be in trouble with the law or drunk. More information about the mindset behind the drivers who run away can be found at these websites: InjuryBoard and Maryland Criminal Law Part 1 and Part 2.
While the United States government has put in policies to punish people who flee from an accident, what about policies to actually catch the driver? If you do not see the license plate then you are not in luck. One solution is for the government (the local or state) to install cameras at all of the major intersections. Yes, this would be a cost a bit to install, but as technology improves basic cameras become cheaper. Some would argue this is a violation of privacy, but it is not. In no way would these camera’s be watching you while you are in the privacy of your own home, but while you are about with many other people around. That brings me to my second solution. Create higher incentives for witnesses to take down the driver’s license plate number. My third solution goes back to the Driver’s Ed. For most of us it seems common sense to stay at the scene of the crime, but if teachers could drive staying at the scene into our heads at an early age then maybe the number of hit and runs would decrease. Of course, for this to happen, parent taught lessons would no longer be an option (which could be a good thing). Whatever the government’s course of action is, it needs to be taken soon before any more people suffer because others will not take responsibility for their actions.