In Illinois and almost everywhere else in the nation, the laws are clear: if you are involved in a traffic accident, you must remain at the scene. Generally, there are some exceptions to these rules which apply most often in the event that a crash participant needs to seek emergency medical treatment, but in a typical collision, you cannot leave the scene unless and until you are cleared by local authorities.
Despite these laws, there are traffic accidents in Chicago every single week of the year where a driver or another involved in the incident flees the scene, causing what is commonly known as a hit-and-run accident. Those drivers who flee and are later caught may face traffic tickets, criminal charges, fines, fees, the loss of a driver’s license, incarceration in jail or prison, or other punishments if they are found guilty of fleeing, and if a victim is injured or killed in a crash, the punishment is often even worse.
Put simply, drivers are required to stay at the scene to ensure justice is done. It enables police officers and other emergency personnel to conduct any investigations they need to determine legal fault for a crash. It allows the victims of a crash to identify the individuals responsible for the incident so that they can recover financially for any damage done to a vehicle or for any bodily injuries that may result. And it often has the effect of making the participants in a collision responsible for the safety of one another as an unhurt victim may be able to summon help for those who sustained injuries, may be unconscious, or otherwise may not be able to help themselves.
Yet, in today’s day and age, nearly one out of every five fatal pedestrian accidents in the nation is a hit-and-run crash.
Data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals just how serious pedestrian collisions continue to be. As the majority of Americans are a pedestrian at some point in time in a typical day, these pedestrian safety issues should be a wakeup call to everyone who drives.
The majority of fatalities sustained in pedestrian traffic incidents occur in urban areas with over 70 percent of all fatalities happening in these settings. Further, approximately 70 percent of fatal pedestrian incidents take place at non-intersection locations. Roughly 70 percent of all pedestrians killed in 2011 were males and males were injured at a higher rate per overall population than females were in pedestrian accidents on public roadways. It may surprise many people to know that the majority of weekday pedestrian deaths took place between 4:00 p.m. and midnight and it may be less surprising to hear that the majority of weekend pedestrian fatalities happened between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
If you drive in the Chicago area, know that your actions will go a long way towards the safety of yourself, your passengers, and pedestrians near your vehicle. Always respect the rights of walkers and yield the right-of-way when appropriate. If you only walk and never drive, know that vehicles pose a constant threat to you. Do not assume that cars will stop at stop signs or red lights and always act defensively when crossing the street. Make sure you only cross at marked pedestrian crossings and if you will be walking after dark, make sure you wear reflecting clothing or carry a light so that you can be seen more readily by passing motorists.
If a hit-and-run pedestrian accident affected your life or claimed the life of someone you know, realize that you may be entitled to financial compensation if you act within a time period specified by local and state laws.
Prior Blog Entry:
Elderly Drivers Pose Smaller Risk of Fatal Car Accidents than Teens, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 2, 2016.
The Problem, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.