PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — In 2020, hit-and-run crash fatalities increased by over 18% here in Florida.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is leading a ‘Stay at the Scene’ campaign this month to bring awareness to hit and runs.
It’s Florida law that a driver must stop immediately when they get into an accident. But law enforcement has seen a spike in the number of motorists leaving the scene.
“We had over 91,000 crashes that were hit and run crashes. That means people left 91,000 scenes. Keep in mind, about 254 of those crashes resulted in a fatality. 137 were involving pedestrians, so that’s very scary.” said Public Affairs Officer for Troop A, Lieutenant Jason King.
If you don’t stop, you will face even higher penalties.
“If you leave the scene of a crash if it’s a minor crash with the damage you could face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Up to, if you leave the scene of a fatality that can be a $10,000 crime and up to 30 years in prison,” said Lt. King.
Troopers say when you do pull over after an accident, to be careful.
“Don’t just get out of the car. Because we’ve had a lot of secondary crashes happen following a crash where other people get run over,” said Lt. King.
Some local hit and run fatalities remain unsolved, but troopers hope someone saw something at those accidents.
“If they have any information from those crashes, we would love to hear from them. One is even too many, we do have a few outstanding cases though. We have 9 from Pensacola and 2 from Panama City.”
Many times drivers aren’t sure what they hit, so it is important to turn around.
“Be aware of your surroundings. If you aren’t sure, please go back because that helps us solve the situations and helps put families at ease at their time of closure,” said Lt. King.
If you do have any information on a hit and run crash you can report it by dialing ‘*FHP’ on your cell phone.