Almost half (45%) of ‘hit and run’ drivers would not have left the scene of the accident if they had known that by doing so they were committing an offence, according to a new report.
The interim independent research report was conducted by the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester on behalf of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
The report also concluded that younger drivers are more likely to leave the scene of an accident because ‘they are uninsured, have been drinking, are scared of the consequences, or panic’.
In contrast, older drivers are more likely to do so if ‘they don’t think the accident is serious enough to report’.
DfT data shows that in 2014 there were 163,554 road traffic collisions where an injury was sustained, and a ‘hit and run’ driver was involved in just over 10% of these incidents.
Of drivers convicted of ‘hit and run’ offences, 29% did not think it was serious enough to report the accident while 21% were unaware of their responsibility to do so.
Dr Matt Hopkins, senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, said: “As relatively little previous work in relation to ‘hit and run’ accidents has included any personal engagement with offenders, this research is fairly novel.
“Of course, these findings have to be treated with caution, but they do begin to highlight some of the reasons why drivers leave the scene of an accident.
“For a number of drivers there is clearly confusion about the legal requirement to report an accident, but importantly, some differences are observed between younger and older drivers that could be developed into preventative strategies.
“Further work is required to gain more detailed understanding of driver motivations to leave the scene from across a range of accident types. This is where the next stage of the research will focus.”
The MIB says that despite the obvious consequences of ‘hit and run’ offences there is a lack of academic-based research which identifies driver behaviours and motivations.
Ashton West OBE, MIB chief executive, said: “Until now we have focused on dealing with the problem of driving without insurance. While the level of uninsured driving in the UK has halved in the last 10 years, the number of claims reported to the MIB from ‘hit and run’ incidents has not fallen by anywhere near this amount.
“We are working to raise awareness of ‘hit and run’ offences and the impact on society with the ultimate aim of bringing the number of incidents down.
“The completion of this independent research will provide useful insights which we will share with the government, police, the insurance industry and other interested bodies so that we can take action to tackle this problem together.”