(CBS) — More than one hit and run crash happens every minute on U.S. roads, even though all states have laws making it illegal to leave the scene of an accident, according to a new study by the AAA.
Most of the victims in deadly hit-and-runs are pedestrians and cyclists.
Dr. Yolanda Green-Samuel lost her older brother Eugene in a hit-and-run crash four years ago near Miami.
“I dropped to the floor. I started crying. It was just something that you would never ever want to hear,” she said.
The 58-year-old father of five was riding his bike when a driver going 60 to 80 miles an hour hit him.
“They didn’t stay. They could have stayed on scene,” Green-Samuel said.
Some 682,000 hit-and-run crashes happen in the U.S. each year, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The research shows an alarming trend.
Hit-and-run crashes led to 2,049 deaths in 2016; the highest number ever recorded, and a 60 percent increase since 2009. Most of the victims were walking or riding a bicycle.
“It’s an eye-opening case study. The data are discouraging; but hopefully it’s enough to open our eyes, and have us be a little more alert on the road, and pay attention for those bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety.
Green-Samuel launched Just An Accident Stop Hit-And-Runs to raise awareness and advocate for victims’ families. She said preventing distracted and impaired driving is key.
“If the accident never occurred, then we wouldn’t have to deal with someone leaving the scene of the accident,” she said.
She would like to see drivers sign a pledge when they get a license or buy a car, acknowledging it is their responsibility to stay on the scene if there is an accident.
For more on Green-Samuel’s organization, you can visit justanaccidentstop.org.