According to research conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the prevalence of hit-and-run crashes in the U.S. has steadily increased since 2006. In 2016, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run crashes resulting in 2,049 fatalities. Of these, 1,398 crashes involved pedestrians and bicyclists.
It’s important that pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike understand their rights and what to do if a driver flees the scene.
What is a hit-and-run?
Hit-and-runs are defined as an accident where someone driving a vehicle hits something (a person, object, or vehicle) and then leaves the scene. A hit-and-run collision is classified as a criminal offense.
In Oklahoma, if you are the operator of a motor vehicle that comes into contact with a pedestrian, object, or vehicle, it is your duty, under Oklahoma hit-and-run laws, to stop at the scene until the accident is reported.
Accidents like these are incredibly stressful situations. If you have never been involved in an accident, we recommend following these steps on what you should do immediately after the crash.
Pedestrian and cyclist precautions
Research conducted by AAA shows that Oklahoma was ranked 10th out of 50 states in terms of most dangerous when it comes to hit-and-run fatalities; even more reason for pedestrians and cyclists to take care.
To stay safe while walking or biking, authorities recommend the following:
- Pedestrians should aim to use sidewalks when available. If no sidewalk is available, the pedestrian should always walk toward oncoming traffic and as far away from traffic as possible.
- Cyclists should ride in the bike lane, or ride in the middle of the designated lane as to simulate a passenger vehicle. This would hopefully alleviate the other drivers on the road from pushing cyclists to the side or trying to pass while in the lane of traffic.
- Pedestrians and cyclists should limit their use of electronics. Being on a phone or using headphones limits awareness to surroundings. The more aware you are, the higher the chance of preventing or surviving a collision.
- Pedestrians should always opt for crosswalks when available. If no crosswalk is available, take extra caution before and during crossing.
- Never assume. Even if a pedestrian or cyclist believes a driver is aware of their presence, do not assume so and always remain cautious. Make eye contact with every driver before moving in front of their vehicle.
- Take extra care when walking or riding behind vehicles that are backing out of driveways and parking spots.
Of course, drivers also need to be aware of their surroundings to ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists who may be on or near the road. Use these tips to ensure everyone’s safety:
- Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and be cautious of those in bike lanes.
- When passing a pedestrian or bike on the side of the road, slow down and move over if possible.
- When weather conditions are less than favorable, reduce speed and use extra caution. Pedestrians and cyclists will be less visible in these scenarios, and reaction time will be decreased.
- Do not drive impaired. This includes under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving impaired is one of the leading causes of hit-and-run fatalities.
- Pay close attention to pedestrians and cyclists, and never assume they can see or hear your vehicle approaching.
Reporting a hit-and-run
If you are in a hit-and-run situation in Oklahoma (or any state for that matter), the first call you should make is for medical attention. If medical attention is not needed, you should call the police to file a report.
Some victims of hit-and-runs believe there’s no reason to file a report when the driver flees the scene because they worry that nothing can be done.
However, filing a police report after a hit-and-run accident can help aid law enforcement in finding the at-fault driver.
By filing a police report, you are allowing:
- Authorities to record the crash after it occurred
- Authorities to potentially track down the driver who left the scene
- A report to be filed under the driver’s insurance company if the driver is found in the future
- A report to be filed to help your own insurance company process your claim
It is also incredibly important to report a hit-and-run if you plan to file for compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured by a hit-and-run driver in Oklahoma, legal action may be needed.
The Oklahoma City car accident attorneys at Carr & Carr are trained to help hit-and-run victims receive the compensation they are owed for physical and emotional suffering.
Have you been injured by a hit-and-run driver in Oklahoma?
Carr & Carr’s team of attorneys have been offering expert legal services throughout Tulsa County since 1973. We believe that the protection of individual rights is essential to preserving the freedoms we all enjoy.
An injury lawyer at Carr & Carr may be able to assist you in achieving a fair settlement after a hit-and-run accident, even if the driver at fault cannot be found.
At Carr & Carr, our car accident attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis, meaning the attorney does not receive payment until the case is successfully resolved. Free consultations are available to help potential clients understand their legal options prior to hiring one of our experienced Tulsa attorneys.