Florida Highway Patrol Opens New Hit-and-Run Awareness Campaign at Orlando Press Conference

    Car crash
    Distracted driving accounts for 9 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries every day

    The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) kicked off its newest campaign on Monday, February 16, to raise awareness about the sudden increase of hit-and-run car accidents throughout the state. The FHP opened its statewide campaign, titled “HITandRUN: BAD2WORSE” in a press conference on Monday in Orlando.

    According to local Orlando news station WFTV 9, the FHP investigated around 84,000 vehicle accidents across Florida during 2014, all involving drivers of motor vehicles that intentionally fled the scene of a car accident without providing contact information or reporting the incident to the police.

    While a small dent or scratch on someone else’s car may not seem like a major crime to most drivers, Florida law enforcement officials have explained that many hit-and-run cases are beginning to involve serious property damage, physical or psychological harm to the victims, and even fatal injuries.

    Out of the 84,252 hit-and-run incidents investigated during 2014, the Orlando Sentinel states, 184 victims were killed. Many people — even Floridians who have been hearing about these incidents — may not realize that this is actually a huge increase from the hit-and-run cases during 2013 (78,527 cases statewide), as well as fatalities linked to these crashes (149 statewide).

    The cause of so many unexplained hit-and-run cases in Florida is part of the reason why the FHP decided to begin its public awareness campaign; as the Sun Sentinel notes, law enforcement officials aren’t entirely sure how to address the problem in the most effective way.

    In many cases, the Sentinel states, drivers are aware that they’ve committed a serious offense — but that they’re also guilty of other traffic violations and are scared of being caught.

    The most common reasons seem to range from being uninsured, undocumented, or unlicensed, to driving while under the influence of drugs/ alcohol. Lack of documentation seems to be particularly pressing issue in the state of Florida.

    Florida — despite its large population of immigrant families — is still overwhelmingly opposed to immigration reform, according to a recent CNN report, which results in more undocumented and unlicensed drivers fleeing from car accidents because they fear deportation if they stick around.

    While it’s impossible to tell if the FHP’s HITandRUN: BAD2WORSE awareness campaign will be successful at reducing the number of hit-and-run crashes in the immediate future, at the very least, it’s already providing some connections between hit-and-run cases and certain demographics towards which future awareness campaigns might be directed.