Hit-and-run traffic accidents with injury or death are on the rise across the state and the nation, according to AAA of the Carolinas.
Tom Crosby of AAA says that these accidents are increasing at an “alarming rate.”
Statewide, there are five hit-and-run incidents on average each day in which someone is injured or killed and the driver flees the scene.
“It reveals that we really have a traffic epidemic with hit and runs with both personal injuries and property damage,” Crosby says.
In 2012, there was a 5.7 percent increase in personal injury hit-and-runs—1,663 accidents in total across North Carolina.
From 2010-2012, there were 91 hit-and-run traffic deaths in total, 51 of which involved a pedestrian, according to the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center.
In comparison, hit-and-run deaths climbed 14 percent nationally from 2009 to 2011, according to the most current data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Crosby says AAA is advocating for the penalties regarding hit-and-runs to be harsher.
With no criminal record, a hit-and-run conviction would make the driver eligible for probation under North Carolina’s complicated sentencing law, which was passed in 2011.
“We feel that there needs to be jail time—heavy jail time—for fleeing the scene of an accident with a personal injury or death.”
Crosby notes that the harsh weather we experienced at the beginning of the year reduced traffic and hit-and-run accidents state-wide compared to 2013.
“In the first quarter we had so much harsh weather that people drove less, and people were actually a little bit more cautious on the road even though sometimes they were slipping and sliding,” Crosby says. “Discretionary travel was way down.”
AAA predicts that both traffic volume and hit-and-runs are expected to climb during the next nine months as the weather warms and summer driving begins.