What is a hit-and-run accident?

By law, any driver involved in a road traffic accident is required to remain at the scene of the incident, whether they were responsible for the accident or not. If a driver leaves or flees, this is classified as a hit-and-run accident and is a criminal offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, regardless of property being damaged or somebody being hurt.

However, the law does allow for some leniency if a parked car is hit, assuming a suitable amount of effort has been made to find the owner of the vehicle. If, after making this effort, the driver of the vehicle is nowhere to be found, a note should be left with the responsible driver’s contact and insurance details before they leave the scene.

Why do drivers flee the scene?

There are a number of reasons why a driver may flee from the scene of an accident, including:

  • The driver not being insured

  • The driver fearing the consequences of being captured

  • The vehicle involved in the accident being stolen

  • The driver having just committed a criminal offence elsewhere

  • The driver being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs

The MIB authorised research by the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester to provide insight into why drivers flee the scene of an accident. The research, which included a survey of 695 people who had been convicted of committing a hit-and-run offence, highlighted that, as well as the reasons listed above, some drivers did not consider incidents to be serious enough to justify stopping and reporting it, while others claimed they had no knowledge of the accident occurring.

Can hit-and-run accident be prevented?

Speaking about the research conducted on hit-and-run drivers’ motivations, Dr Matt Hopkins from the University of Leicester said: “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 MIB has laid out plans to reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents in the UK. This includes:

  • Educating drivers about their responsibilities in the event of an accident

  • Developing simpler ways to report an accident

  • Raising awareness through theory tests and speed awareness courses

What you should do

If you are hit by an untraced driver, you should try to get the licence plate of the offending vehicle if you can. Even though you may not know who the other driver was, you must still report the accident to the police as soon as it is practical (within 14 days of the accident happening), as you will need to provide evidence to the MIB if you make a claim.

You should also photograph the scene and any other vehicles involved in the accident and take down the details of any witnesses to the accident. Finally, you should speak to a solicitor for legal advice on making a claim with the MIB. Claims involving hit-and-run drivers can be made within three years of the accident, but the sooner you choose to make a claim, the better position you will be in to ensure that supporting evidence has been well preserved, such as witness recollections of the events leading up to and surrounding the accident.

What you should not do

You should not do the following things after a hit-and-run accident:

  1. Leave the scene of the accident to confront or pursue the other driver

  2. Unnecessarily block traffic while you wait for the police

  3. Do not wait in your car for the police; you should move to somewhere safe if possible

Being in a hit-and-run accident can have a significant impact on you and anyone else involved; it is important that you report any incidents to the police to ensure the appropriate action is taken.

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident that was not your fault, including a hit and run, please get in touch with our solicitors today to make a claim for compensation by calling 0800 10 757 95 or by filling in our online claim form.

Categories: Road And Motor
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