The rise in Hit and Run accidents speaks volumes about where we stand as a community, and for lack of a better word, it is simply “sad”.
What used to be a rarity (leaving the scene of an accident) is now commonplace. How did we get here? and better yet, how do we fix this problem?
In 2013, there were 78,661 hit-and-run crashes in the state. In 2014, there were 85,241; in 2015, 94,456; in 2016, 99,004.
As expected, Miami-Dade in 2016 had the most hit-and-run crashes in all of Florida’s 67 counties: 19,087. That is 52 hit and run accidents a day, or a little more then 2 per hour for Miami. The runner-up was Broward with 11,993. The third county with the most hit-and-run crashes was Palm Beach with 7,694.
Experts attribute the rise in Hit and Run crashes to two (2) factors. First and foremost, is the increased penalties for driving while drunk and second is the lack of immigration status. I disagree. We now have increased penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, thanks to the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act and Hit and Runs increased since the law was passed. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was a great piece of legislation, and I can only imagine where we would be without it.
As reported in the Miami Herald, the thought regarding illegal immigrants is, “Many immigrants who have no status cannot get a driver license or auto insurance, but they have to drive to go to work, but if they crash, they don’t stay at the scene because they’re afraid of being detained and deported,” said Francisco Portillo, president of the Miami immigrant rights group Francisco Morazán Honduran Organization.
There have been illegal immigrants in Florida for years, and the numbers have never reached the crisis level that they are now. While I am sure a portion of these accidents can be attributed to illegal immigrants fear of being deported, I feel the real answer is that many motorists have no respect for others and no fear of getting caught. Thus, we need to expand on the Aaron Cohen Act, and further increase penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, and increase law enforcement and surveillance cameras at all intersections and along I-95 and the turnpike. The greatest deterrent is the certainty of getting caught and the severity of the punishment.
In terms of legal recourse for victims of Hit and Run crashes, the only coverage that will offer protection is Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This valuable insurance coverage lets you self insure in the event the at fault driver does not have insurance, does not have enough insurance, or leaves the scene of an accident.
Florida does not mandate insurers offer you uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage, unless you also purchase Bodily Injury Liability coverage.
This additional coverage is usually available at a very reasonable price and it can make all the difference should you ever become the victim of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.