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AAA Study: Hit-and-Run Deaths on the Rise in FL

An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes have occurred each year since 2006, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (Pixabay)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is part of a growing trend of deadly hit-and-run accidents across the country, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Florida’s heavy influx of tourists roaming major cities such as Orlando and Miami has made it the third-worst state for hit-and-run accidents. Others in the "top three" are Louisiana and New Mexico.

Matt Nasworthy, Florida public affairs director for AAA’s Auto Club Group, said drivers need to be aware that there are serious penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, even for a driver who isn’t at fault.

"There is just no reason to ever leave the scene of an accident; it’s illegal in all 50 states," he said. "And frankly, we’re seeing a lot of pedestrian and bicyclists (as) the ones that are the fatalities from hit-and-runs."

The study found it’s a pedestrian or cyclist who loses his or her life in about 65 percent of fatal hit-and-run accidents. Nasworthy cited what he called the "A-B-Cs" for people to follow if they’re ever in an accident: Assist the injured, be visible, and communicate by calling the appropriate authorities.

In 2016, according to the study, Florida had 206 hit-and-run crashes that involved at least one death – and more than 1,800 such incidents since 2006. In recent years, Nasworthy said, hit-and-run crashes nationally have risen more than 7 percent a year, indicating that distracted driving is taking its toll.

"It’s unfortunate that we need to spread the word about this because you’d think that there’d be more folks choosing to make sure and take care of their fellow man, fellow woman," he said, "and it’s just not happening enough. "

The research found that Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire are among the states with the lowest rates of hit-and-run accidents.

The AAA data is online at newsroom.aaa.com.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service – FL

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