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FLHSMV launches awareness campaign for February to reduce hit-and-run crashes.

Wed, Feb 01, 2023 at 2:25PM

Written by Kristen Schmutz

Belden Communications News



Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FLHSMV) and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are taking action this month by designating February as Hit-and-Run Awareness Month to combat the rise of hit-and-run crashes. The "Stay at the Scene" campaign aims to prevent these types of crashes, reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, and bring justice to families affected by these crimes.

Despite positive improvements from last year, hit-and-run crashes are still a problem on Florida roadways. In 2022, hit-and-run crashes decreased by 5% compared to 2021; Fatalities from hit-and-runs were down by 13%, and serious bodily injuries were down by 15%. However, over the past five years, 515,957 hit-and-run crashes resulted in 1,251 fatalities in the state, averaging 103,191 hit-and-run crashes and 250 deaths per year.

Hit-and-run crashes mainly occur at night or during dimly lit periods, accounting for 80% of all hit-and-runs, with 84% of these involving a fatality. In 2022, 144 of the hit-and-run fatalities were pedestrians, and fifty were bicyclists, totaling 73% of all hit-and-run fatalities, averaging an increase of 3% from the previous year.

"Florida has been experiencing far too many hit-and-run tragedies for far too long, and this needs to change. Drivers who flee the scene of a crash are breaking the law and displaying disregard towards other people's lives and property," said FLHSMV Executive Director Dave Kerner.

Under Florida law, drivers must stop immediately at the scene of a crash that results in property damage, injury, or death. Leaving a crash scene with property damage is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to sixty days in jail and a $500 fine. Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries is a second or third-degree felony, with a minimum revocation of a driver's license for three years, a sentence of up to five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine. Leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality is a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison (with a potential sentence of up to thirty years) and a $10,000 fine.

If involved in a crash with only property damage, drivers must stay at the scene and attempt to locate or contact the property owner, leaving contact and insurance information if unable to do so. The driver and crash victim can self-file a crash report with FLHSMV.

“Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a crime, even when you are scared. You must stop immediately at the scene of a crash which results in property damage, injury, or death,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Colonel Gene S. Spaulding. “If you happen to witness a hit-and-run crash, I urge you to dial *FHP (*347) or contact local law enforcement to report what you witnessed. Together, we can make a difference in solving hit-and-run crashes.”

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