February Is Hit-And-Run Awareness Month In Florida
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has launched an awareness campaign for the month of February to reduce hit-and-run crashes and fatalities in Florida: February is now Hit-and-Run Awareness Month in Florida.
According to their announcement, FLHSMV and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are leading the state’s “Stay at the Scene” campaign to prevent these crashes, reduce fatalities and injuries, and bring justice to families impacted by these crimes.
FLHSMV’s data analysis shows a positive improvement from last year, but yearly hit-and-run totals in Florida underscore a disturbing trend.
In 2022, the total number of hit-and-run crashes across the state decreased by 5% compared to 2021. In that same comparison, fatalities from hit-and-runs were down by 13%, and serious bodily injuries from hit-and-runs were down 15%.
However, in Florida over the past five years, there were 515,957 hit-and-run crashes that resulted in 1,251 fatalities. That, on average, is 103,191 hit-and-run crashes resulting in 250 deaths per year in the state. Florida recorded 104,895 hit-and-run crashes and 266 fatalities last year.
Fatalities in hit-and-runs, due to low-light conditions, decreased in 2022 from the previous year. Total crashes and those at dawn, dusk, or nighttime saw a slight downtick. Despite that reduction, hit-and-run crashes still primarily occur at night or during dimly lit time periods, and account for 80% of all hit-and-run crashes. Sadly, 84% of hit-and-runs in low-light conditions involve a fatality.
Additionally, 144 of the hit-and-run fatalities in 2022 were pedestrians and 50 were bicyclists, totaling 73% of hit-and-run fatalities last year. While overall hit-and-run fatalities were down compared to 2021, the percentage of bicyclists and pedestrians who died in hit-and-run crashes rose by 3%.
Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in property damage, injury, or death:
- If the crash involves property damage, leaving the scene is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, with penalties up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries is a second- or third-degree felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their driver license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and incur a $5,000 fine.
- Drivers who leave the scene of a crash with a fatality face a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of four years in prison, and they could be sentenced up to 30 years and incur a $10,000 fine.
Of Florida’s 104,895 hit-and-run crashes last year, 86,799 involved property damage only, such as a parked car with no one inside, mailbox, fence, or landscape/garden. If involved in a crash involving property damage, you must stay at the scene and attempt to locate or contact the property owner. If you cannot locate the property owner, the driver responsible for the crash should leave contact and insurance information in an identifiable location.
In the case of property damage only, the driver and crash victim – once contact has been made between them – can self-file a crash report with FLHSMV, and then do not need law enforcement to file a crash report.
For more information on the “Stay at the Scene” campaign, including data, downloadable materials, and additional resources, please visit FLHSMV’s Hit-and-Run Awareness webpage, www.flhsmv.gov/StayAtTheScene.