In a Crash, Do the Right Thing and Stop
~Drivers face tougher penalties for fleeing the scene of a crash~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida has experienced an alarming increase in the number of fatal hit and run crashes during the last two years. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is partnering with the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA), the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to get the message out that fleeing the scene of an accident can result in tougher penalties.
Last year, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was signed into law by Governor Scott. The law enhances the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash. The campaign aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida by educating drivers about their responsibilities if involved in a crash and the consequences they face if they leave a crash scene.
“There were more than 80,000 hit and run crashes in Florida last year, a seven percent increase from 2013. Leaving the scene makes the situation worse, not only for those who flee, but even more so for the victims left behind,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “It is crucial that all individuals involved in a crash, including witnesses to a crash, contact 911 and remain at the scene until help arrives. Every life matters and every second counts.”
This week, the Patrol is hosting press conferences throughout the state to focus on the consequences of leaving a crash, Florida law, and the victims of hit and run crashes. For more information about hit and run crash facts and tips, visit https://www.flhsmv.gov/florida-highway-patrol/hitrun/.
What to do after a crash:
- CALL law enforcement.
- REMAIN calm.
- ATTAIN vehicle, witness and driver information.
- SKETCH the scene, showing vehicle crash locations.
- HELP the injured.
A few hit and run facts for Florida:
- Hit and run crashes involving fatalities increased 23 percent from 2013 to 2014.
- Forty-six counties saw an increase in hit and runs from 2013 to 2014.
- The number of hit and run crashes statewide has increased seven percent from 2013 to 2014.
- Nearly half of the hit and run fatalities in 2014 were pedestrians, a 17 percent increase from 2013.
- Twenty-five percent of all crashes are hit and run crashes.
What does Florida law say?
As of July 2014, with the enactment of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, consequences of leaving the scene of a crash have been enhanced. The Act:
- Punishes leaving the scene of a crash resulting in serious bodily injury to a person as a second degree felony, rather than a third degree felony.
- Imposes a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in the death of a person.
- Increases the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment from two to four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in the death of a person while driving under the influence (DUI).
- Imposes a minimum driver license revocation period of at least three years, and driver education requirements for leaving the scene of a crash.
- Ranks offenses for leaving the scene of a crash one level higher than specified in the Criminal Punishment Code if the victim of the offense was a “vulnerable road user” (such as a pedestrian, a bicyclist or a motorcyclist).
What our partners are saying:
“At the Florida Department of Transportation, safety is our number one priority,” said FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold. “Every life counts! Through the Alert Today Florida Campaign we’re implementing a multipronged approach that includes high visibility enforcement, education, engineering, and emergency services to drive down fatalities on Florida’s roadways.”
“The Florida Sheriffs Task Force recently conducted Operation Safe Steps, a statewide effort focused on pedestrian safety. This initiative resulted in 22,931 citations, arrests and warnings during the four week period of the operation. Whether enforcing traffic law, investigating traffic crashes or bringing hit and run drivers to justice, your Florida Sheriffs are committed to keeping the citizens they serve safe.” ~ Sheriff David Shoar, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.
“Florida’s police agencies are active and committed partners in highway safety,” said the Florida Police Chiefs Association President Chief Frank Kitzerow. “This is especially true when it comes to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Literally every second counts when one of these vulnerable road users are involved in a crash. That is why it is your duty to stay at the scene and call 911. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the law.”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department is leading the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FLHSMV or find us on Facebook.