A new study has found that a significant proportion of drivers involved in a ‘hit and run’ incident failed to stop because they didn’t think the incident was serious enough to report, or were unaware of the legal requirement to do so.
Published today (12 Jan), the study, conducted by the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester on behalf of the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), involved a survey of, and interviews with, 695 people who had been convicted of committing a ‘hit and run’ offence.
The MIB describes the findings as ‘alarming’.
More than 12% of UK road traffic collisions reported to the police in which someone is injured, involve a ‘hit and run’ driver. This equates to more than 17,000 incidents and for the past two years the number has increased, reversing the trend seen over the past decade.
‘Hit and run’ drivers can be convicted for failing to stop and failing to report an accident. This can lead to punishments ranging from five to 10 penalty points, discretionary disqualification, an unlimited fine or even imprisonment.
The study found that many drivers think about their own self-preservation rather than any responsibility to report – for example, they may have criminality to hide or be driving without insurance
It also found that, in many cases, drivers do not consider the incident to be serious and some claim they have no knowledge of the incident. Many people who hit and run are under the influence of alcohol, which impairs their judgment.
The report goes on to categorise hit and run drivers into six groups that are linked to motivational behaviours: the oblivious, the uncertain departers, the panickers and the rational escapists, the intimidated and the impaired or ‘non compos mentis.’
Dr Matt Hopkins, University of Leicester, said: “The reasons behind why people hit and run are complex but by breaking drivers down into categories we start to understand their motivations for leaving the scene of an accident.
“Interestingly, there seems to be a public perception that motoring offences are not ‘real crimes’ and therefore there is a tendency for drivers to justify their behaviour.”
The report also makes a number of recommendations to help address the issue, including:
- Educating drivers about their responsibilities and exactly what needs to be done in the event of an accident.
- Developing easy ways of reporting accidents including via a website or online app.
- Raisinging awareness for drivers through theory tests and speed awareness courses.
Ashton West, OBE, chief executive, MIB, said: “Hit and runs can have an everlasting impact on the victims and their families. We handle 15,000 claims a year for victims of ‘hit and runs’ and felt an imperative to commission the University of Leicester to do this research to gain an understanding of this area.
“We will be focusing on the recommendations that help raise awareness and educate drivers about their responsibilities.”