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Campaign Launched To Reduce Hit And Run Crashes After Florida Sees Increase

Sascha Cordner

A new campaign is underway to reduce the number hit and run crashes across the state. There’s been an increase in these types of traffic accidents in the past two years. Florida Highway Patrol is hoping to get that number down by educating drivers about their responsibilities through a new campaign launched Monday.

“Our hope is that we reduce the number of hit and run crashes through Florida, so that when somebody gets involved in a traffic crash and they hit you, they stay on the scene so that your insurance company doesn’t have to pay for the damages,” said Major Mark Welch of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The number of hit and run crashes has grown in the last two years. Last year, Florida Highway Patrol investigated about 70,000 hit and run crashes—that’s up about 500 compared with 2011.

There’s also been a slight spike in the number of fatal hit and run crashes. In 2011, there were 162. And, last year, that number grew by 6. Welch says officials want to stop that growing trend.

“In 2012, there were 4,414 traffic crashes, involving pedestrians. And, over half of those resulted in injuries. 100 pedestrians were killed in hit and run crashes. And of the 168 people that lost their lives in hit and run crashes, that represents three out of five people that died in a hit and run crash,” said Welch.

Welch says his agency has seen people leave the scene of a crash for multiple reasons. That includes they may be wanted, driving impaired, or operating a vehicle without insurance. Still, he says as responsible drivers, it’s important motorists are aware of the consequences.

“First, if you leave the scene of a crash that involves a death, you’ll be looking at a penalty of up to $10,000 or 30 years in prison. If there’s injuries, you’re looking at a $5,000 fine or five years in prison. And, if there’s property damage, you could face up to 60 days in a county jail and a $500 fine.”

The campaign called “Hit and Run: Bad 2 Worse” launched in several cities across Florida, including Orlando and Tallahassee. Others involved in the campaign include the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriff's Association, and the Florida Department of Transportation.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.