FLHSMV Launches Its February Public Safety 'Stay at the Scene' Campaign - "A Hit and Run Is Not an Accident, It’s a Crime!"
Florida - Friday February 2, 2024: The Florida Department of Highway Safety's (FLHSMV) February 2024 'Stay at the Scene' public safety campaign is focused on reminding motorists to stay at the scene if they are involved in a hit and run crash.
Hit-and-run crashes are not harmless and can cause serious injury, property damage, and even death. Those involved should always stay on the scene and remember that driving is a privilege and a responsibility.
Between 2015 and 2023, 923,000 hit-and-run crashes resulted in 2,162 traffic fatalities, approximately 84% of which occurred during dawn, dusk, or low light conditions. In 2023, 219 (81%) of the 271 fatalities from hit-and-run crashes occurred during dawn, dusk, or low-light conditions.
“If you are involved in a traffic crash, the law requires you to remain on scene,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Dave Kerner. “When you operate a vehicle, you accept the responsibility of operating your vehicle safely and responsibly. Leaving the crash scene is reckless, irresponsible, and illegal, and State Troopers will work diligently to arrest you.”
FLHSMV's partners have all joined in the campaign, they are the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Florida Sheriff's Association (FSA), the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), and the AAA-The Auto Club Group.
“Leaving the scene of a crash can have serious consequences,” said FHP Colonel Gary Howze II. “It's important that you stay on scene and don't leave. Remember, a hit and run crash is a criminal offense and could result in severe penalties.”
The data for last year is preliminary. It shows 159 of the hit-and-run fatalities in 2023 were pedestrians, and 47 were bicyclists, totaling 76% of hit-and-run fatalities last year.
The preliminary data shows a 1% decrease in hit and run crashes last year, but there was an almost 2% increase in fatalities from 2022 and the percentage of bicyclists and pedestrians who died in hit-and-run crashes in 2023 rose by 3% for the second year in a row.
Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) are bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists and last year there were an additional 404 VRU crashes with severe bodily injuries. That includes 263 pedestrians, 137 bicyclists and 4 motorcyclists.
“Safety is FDOT's top priority. With our mission to bring everyone to their destination safely, we stand beside our law enforcement partners to help further stress the importance of making safety a community responsibility. Together, we can help get everyone home safely,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “If an accident does happen, do the right thing – stay at the scene and call for help. This effort could save a life.”
VRUs make up 46.38% of the 871 hit-and-run crashes with severe bodily injury according to preliminary data in 2023.
Hit and Run Penalties
Under Florida law, a driver MUST stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property, which results in property damage, injury, or death.
"It is important to stay at the scene if you are involved in a traffic crash," said Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association. "Hit-and-run crashes are against the law and often lead to criminal penalties. They also hamper law enforcement and drain resources due to prolonged investigations. On behalf of all Florida sheriffs, I fully support the 'Stay at the Scene Campaign' to help resolve the situation properly."
If a driver flees the scene, the situation becomes even worse.
- If the crash involves property damage, leaving the scene is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries is a second- or third-degree felony, and a driver, when convicted, will have their driver's license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and incur a $5,000 fine.
- Drivers leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison and incur a $10,000 fine.
Of Florida's 104,273 hit-and-run crashes last year, 86,987 involved property damage only, such as a parked car with no one inside, mailbox, fence, or landscape/garden. If involved in a crash involving property damage, you must stay at the scene and attempt to locate or contact the property owner. If you cannot locate the property owner, the driver responsible for the crash should leave contact and insurance information in an identifiable location.
In the case of property damage only, the driver and crash victim can self-file a crash report with FLHSMV and do not need law enforcement to file a crash report once contact has been initiated.
For more information on the 'Stay at the Scene' campaign, including data, downloadable materials, and additional resources, please visit FLHSMV's Hit-and-Run Awareness webpage, www.flhsmv.gov/StayAtTheScene.gov .