According to a 2009 study by the nonprofit group Transportation for America, four of the top ten cities with the highest rates for pedestrian fatalities are in Florida: Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. In addition, Southern Florida ranks as one of the worst areas in the country in many studies for hit and run collisions. In 2012 alone, for example, there were about 70 000 hit and run accidents in Florida. One out of every five pedestrian deaths that same year occurred in hit and run accidents. There are many reasons for these types of accidents:
1) Drivers who have something to hide. Drivers who are driving unlicensed or uninsured typically want to avoid taking responsibility for an accident because they fear jail time. Drivers who have outstanding warrants or who have already been arrested for drunk driving accidents in Miami or other cities may also choose to flee the scene of an accident rather than accept responsibility for their actions.
2) Design flaws. According to Transportation for America, hit and run car accidents in Miami and other cities result in part from poor city planning and design. According to the group, the focus over the years has been on suburban and urban sprawl, leaving few safe spaces for walkers and bicycles, leading to pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Miami and other cities. The driver culture also makes it harder for people to choose safer public transport options, which means more cars on the road and more risk of accidents. According to the same source, 13% of all traffic deaths in the US are cyclists and pedestrians but only 1.5% of US transportation safety budgets are earmarked for bicycle paths, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and cyclist-safety projects.
3) Distracted driving. When drivers are distracted due to mobile phones, passengers, pets, or for some other reason, they may not notice pedestrians in time. Distracted driving can easily lead to a pedestrian accident in Miami or another community, leaving the at-fault driver in a panic and leaving the scene of the accident. In some cases, drivers may also believe that they will not get caught and will leave without helping the victim because they don’t want to face the consequences of their actions.
Many government agencies, including the Florida Department of Transportation, The Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Police of Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and others have formed educational programs to alert drivers about the law. In Florida, it is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident without offering assistance and without exchanging contact information with the other driver. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is considered a felony and can result in 30 years of incarceration as well as fines of $10,000.
Since Florida tends to have a high instance of hit and run drivers, it is important for motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage. If you drive anywhere in the state, consult with your insurance carrier to ensure that you have coverage even if you are in a hit and run accident.
If you are involved in a hit and run accident anywhere in Southern Florida, get medical help and contact the police to report the crime. In addition, contact the Flaxman Law Group to get legal advice about your situation. Your initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation.