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Hit and Runs: Better to Avoid Them in the First Place

AAA Hoosier Motor Club says they're happening more often and they can cost you money, freedom and your life.

STATE WIDE--Indiana has a law that says you have to call the police when you hit someone. Every state has a law that says you have to stay at the scene of a crash you are involved in. The AAA Hoosier Motor Club says they want to help you keep a crash from happening in the first place.

"More than one hit and run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roadways now. These crashes are steadily increasing," said Greg Seiter, spokesperson for Indiana's AAA. "It's something that needs to be addressed. We're now seeing the highest number on record-a 60 percent increase since 2009."

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”

Seiter said awareness is the best way to avoid a crash with someone who may be walking or riding a bike, which people are doing more with warmer weather.

"Pedestrians may act unpredictably and they can walk into the path of travel at any point," said Seiter.

Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes. To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:

  • Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.
  • Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
  • Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
  • Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.

“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers, whether they caused the crash or not.”

In Indiana it's a felony if you hit someone, cause injury and the leave. The penalties get worse if you kill someone and take off.

LINK: Penalties for Hit and Runs

If a driver is involved in a crash, they should never leave the scene and follow the steps below: 

  • Assist the injured - Check for injured people and call 911. 
  • Be visible - Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.
  • Communicate - Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Superstock

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