What Drivers need to Know About Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents

A 28-year-old Delaware County man was critically injured earlier this week when he was struck by a vehicle that fled after hitting him as he walked alone on a road in the darkness.

The victim, Thomas Quercetti, of Boothwyn, was unconscious when he was found in the wee hours lying in the roadway by a passing motorist who alerted police,” according to a story in The Delaware County News Network. “Quercetti was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center where, according to his sister, he remained unconscious and on a respirator in the intensive care unit.”

Just reading that information is astounding.

Who in their right mind can strike a human being with a motor vehicle and then leave them there to suffer or die?

A vehicle windshield has severe damage following an impact with a pedestrian in this stock photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Svenler

Yet it happens all the time across the United States, according to government statistics.

Some 1,500 people die each year in the U.S. in incidents caused by hit-and-run drivers, mostly in pedestrian accidents, according to a report by the AAA Foundation for Public Safety.

About 11 percent of all police-reported crashes – or 1 in 10 — involve a hit-and-run driver, the AAA analysis determined. “About 60 percent of the people killed in hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians,” according to Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “One in five pedestrian fatalities involves hit-and-run drivers.”

Almost 15,000 people were killed by hit-and-run drivers from 1994 to 2003 in the U.S., the group’s analysis found. The statistics were culled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System databases.

Night is especially deadly for pedestrians, and the weekends provide the bulk of hit and run crashes,” according to a blog post by CarInsurance.org. “Fifty-eight percent of fatal hit and run crashes occur on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday; and 47 percent of fatal hit and run crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.”

Some of that is related to incidents of drunk driving at night, according to CarInsurance.org. “From 9:00 pm until 6:00 am, 55 percent of all fatal accidents in the United States involve alcohol-impaired drivers,” the site reported. “Thirty-two percent of all fatal accidents involve drivers under the influence, so there is a significant spike in impaired driving once the sun goes down.”

As we ponder these statistics, we shake our heads as we struggle to figure out why any driver who might strike a person with a vehicle might flee and not render aid.

It makes no sense at all.

Whether an accident occurs due to adverse weather conditions, poor illumination along a roadway or any other factors, it is one’s responsibility to stop and render aid if your vehicle strikes an object, another vehicle or especially another human being. It is basic common sense. It is basic human concern for another person.

What has happened to us that we could fail to stop and automatically render such aid?

It is an outrage and embarrassment.

What if that were someone you loved and cared about who was laying along the road, injured by a hit-and-run driver in the darkness?

This is unacceptable in a free society, in our society.

Pedestrians can help prevent such tragedies by following certain safety rules, according to the AAA Foundation.

  • Obey traffic signals
  • Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street even when in a crosswalk
  • Watch for turning vehicles when crossing
  • Remain alert and aware of cars as they approach and pass you
  • Do not assume drivers see you because you see them
  • When sidewalks are not present, walk as far away from the roadway as possible
  • If walking at night wear retro reflective and light-colored clothing

Ultimately, however, it is vehicle drivers who have to make changes so this tragic scenario doesn’t continue to happen across our nation.

Drivers need to face their responsibilities if they are involved in a hit-and-run accident. They need to see the victims as people and do the right thing.

If you witness a hit-and-run accident, you must fulfill your responsibilities and write down the license plate number and vehicle description of the offending vehicle as quickly as possible, then call 9-1-1 immediately, while rendering aid to the victim.

We are not a nation of savages, but you wouldn’t know it by the fact that some 1,500 people in the U.S. are killed each year only because they were hit by a fleeing motorist and left to die.

It is inexcusable, unacceptable and abhorrent.

And it’s something that we all must do something to stop.