According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads. Statistics show dramatic increases of hit and runs overall in the past ten years, averaging 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurring each year. The ones getting hurt or killed in the majority of these type of accidents aren’t necessarily other drivers, it’s pedestrians and bicyclists. They make up 65 percent of hit and run victims. However, whether you are involved in a hit and run accident, or a witness to one, it is very important to know the right steps to take.
It used to be taken for granted that when an accident occurred, a driver would pull over and make sure everyone was okay and you’d exchange information. Nowadays it seems we’re starting to move in the opposite direction. A hit and run accident is being defined these days not so much by the nature of who was injured or the severity of the accident, but more the fact that the instigating driver intentionally flees the scene without providing necessary first aid or even leaving proper contact information to the victim. A collision with an unoccupied vehicle can even be considered hit and run, if you don’t leave a note describing what happened and your contact info.
If you are involved in any accident while driving, your first step is to check yourself and any passengers for injury. After checking yourself, move toward checking other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists involved. If needed, call 911 and deliver first aid.
Make sure that the accident scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. If possible, move your car to a safe spot (preferably the side of the road).
Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.
If you are involved in a hit and run, with the other driver fleeing the scene, document the crash scene as best as possible for the police. Write down the time and date of the accident and the extent of your damage. Then, describe as much as you can about the car that hit you, including make, model, color, license plate number, and the direction in which it was heading. Be sure to mention anything that stood out about the offender car, things that would make it easy to identify to police. Also, if you had a clear look at the offending driver himself, include that in your documentation. This would include hair color, approximate age, etc.
Identify and speak with all potential witnesses to the hit and run, including collecting the same information as mentioned above. Maybe they saw something more than you, including a license number. Ask for each witness’ name, phone number, home or work address, and email address (all or some of this info will depend on the person’s willingness to share).
As part of your documentation process, as always, take pictures of your damaged vehicle and of the crash scene. It will not only help explain what happened, it will also help you with your insurance claim. You should contact your insurance immediately after documenting.
Finally, obtain a copy of a filed police report of the accident for your records. This should contain all of your documented information mentioned previously.
In conclusion, never leave the scene of the accident in an attempt to follow the offending driver. It is better to let the law handle their capture. Be calm, safe, and stick to the steps we just finished mentioning.
Pete Solis Collision Center is El Paso’s Auto Body Shop! With over 47 years of experience behind us, we are the top choice for bodywork, paint, and more. We are the home to ICAR certified professional body shop technicians, as well as quality Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes. Pete Solis Collision Center is located at 1434 Lomaland Dr. in El Paso, Texas. Give us a call today at (915) 599-8666. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.