Stay at the Scene – You Could Save a Life
This February, for Hit and Run Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is reminding all motorists to Stay at the Scene when involved in a crash. The initiative seeks to solve hit and run cases and reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“If you are involved in a crash, Stay at the Scene. For starters, it’s the law, but staying at the scene could also save a life,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Leaving the scene of the crash will only ensure you receive more serious penalties, no matter the severity of the crash. I urge members of the public to report any information on hit and run crashes anonymously to Crime Stoppers.”
Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in property damage, injury or death. In 2019, preliminarily, there were more than 105,000 hit and run crashes in Florida. Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison.
“Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a crime. You must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property which results in property damage, injury, or death,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Colonel Gene S. Spaulding. “Staying at the scene will not only prevent significant legal penalties, but may save a life.”
The vast majority of hit and run fatalities occur at night or during low-light hours. According to an FLHSMV analysis, over 84 percent of all hit and run fatalities from 2015 to 2019 occurred at night or during low-light hours. Additionally, while bicyclists and pedestrians are involved in a small percentage of hit and run crashes overall, bicyclists and pedestrians made up 21 percent of all hit and run fatalities. Motorists are urged to drive safely and look twice for these vulnerable road users. If you are in a crash, always stay at the scene and call for aid.
“Safety for all road users is our priority at the Florida Department of Transportation,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “In the event of a crash, it is imperative to stay at the scene and contact the proper authorities. Leaving the scene of a crash before authorities arrive has serious implications for everyone involved. It is up to each of us to make the commitment to practice safe habits behind the wheel, look out for other travelers and make sound decisions.”
“If you are involved in a traffic crash you must remain at the scene. Hit and run crashes not only violate the law and may subject someone to criminal penalties, they hamper law enforcement and drain resources due to prolonged investigations. On behalf of all Florida sheriffs, I fully support and endorse the Stay at the Scene Campaign,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, President, Florida Sheriffs Association.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association’s President, Chief Kenneth Albano, Temple Terrace Police Department said, “The Florida Police Chiefs Association fully supports the Stay at the Scene campaign which aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes throughout the state. Rarely does anyone intentionally set out to become involved in a vehicle crash. However, leaving the scene of a crash is always a choice, a choice that could have life altering ramifications for both the hit and run driver and those they choose to leave behind. Stay at the Scene, save yourself and possibly the life of another.”
“The Florida Association of Crime Stoppers urges all citizens to report any information they may have on Hit and Run traffic crashes,” said the President of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, Barb Bergin. “Be a part of the solution, contact your local Crime Stoppers program to report anonymously. Say It Here.”
“Leaving the scene of a crash is not just illegal and costly, It puts the safety of everyone involved at risk,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Do the right thing. Stay at the scene and find a safe place to call for help.”
The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to Stay at the Scene and call for help. The public is encouraged to report hit and run crashes by dialing *FHP (*347) or your local Crime Stoppers. For localized Crime Stoppers numbers and more information on staying at the scene, click here.