New research from the AAA Foundation found hit and run crashes killed more than 2,000 people in 2016.
2,049 to be exact. It's the highest number on record. Even more alarming -- more than one hit-and-run crash happens every minute in the United States.
AAA research found these commonalities:
An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.
Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.
Per capita, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates.
As you can imagine, the report found most victims of fatal hit and runs are pedestrians or bicyclists. AAA reps offer these tips for drivers to avoid incident:
- Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.
- Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
- Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
- Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.
“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said AAA State Relations Director Jennifer Ryan.
Right now, every state has laws making it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to leave the scene -- penalties vary depending on the type of crash. If found guilty, drivers may face fines, loss of license, or jail time.
Here's AAA protocol if you or someone you know is ever involved in a hit and run:
1. Assist the injured- Check for injured people and call 911.
2. Be visible- Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.
3. Communicate- Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.
To review state-by-state hit and run laws, check out AAA's info sheet.