TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and our public safety partners at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA), Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), and AAA-The Auto Club Group are raising awareness during February public safety campaign focused on motorists staying on the scene if they are involved in a hit and run crash.
While preliminary data for 2023 shows less than one percent decrease in crashes, there was an almost 2% increase in fatalities from 2022. This increase proves that hit-and-run crashes are not harmless and can cause serious injury, property damage, and even death. Those involved should always stay on the scene and remember that driving is a privilege and a responsibility.
Additionally, 159 of the hit-and-run fatalities in 2023 were pedestrians, and 47 were bicyclists, totaling 76% of hit-and-run fatalities last year. While overall hit-and-run fatalities were down compared to 2022, the percentage of bicyclists and pedestrians who died in hit-and-run crashes rose by 3% for the second year in a row. Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) which include bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists were involved in 404 hit-and-run crashes with severe bodily injuries. This includes 263 pedestrians, 137 bicyclists and 4 motorcyclists. VRUs make up 46.38% of the 871 hit-and-run crashes with severe bodily injury according to preliminary data in 2023.
“If you are involved in a traffic crash, the law requires you to remain on scene,” said Executive Director Dave Kerner. “When you operate a vehicle, you accept the responsibility of operating your vehicle safely and responsibly. Leaving the crash scene is reckless, irresponsible, and illegal, and State Troopers will work diligently to arrest you.”
“Leaving the scene of a crash can have serious consequences,” said FHP Colonel Gary Howze II. “It’s important that you stay on scene and don’t leave. Remember, a hit and run crash is a criminal offense and could result in severe penalties.”
Under Florida law, a driver MUST stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property, which results in property damage, injury, or death.
If a driver flees the scene, the situation becomes even worse.
• If the crash involves property damage, leaving the scene is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
• Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries is a second- or third-degree felony, and a driver, when convicted, will have their driver’s license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and incur a $5,000 fine.
• Drivers leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison and incur a $10,000 fine.
Of Florida’s 104,273 hit-and-run crashes last year, 86,987 involved property damage only, such as a parked car with no one inside, mailbox, fence, or landscape/garden. If involved in a crash involving property damage, you must stay at the scene and attempt to locate or contact the property owner. If you cannot locate the property owner, the driver responsible for the crash should leave contact and insurance information in an identifiable location.
In the case of property damage only, the driver and crash victim can self-file a crash report with FLHSMV and do not need law enforcement to file a crash report once contact has been initiated.
“Safety is FDOT’s top priority. With our mission to bring everyone to their destination safely, we stand beside our law enforcement partners to help further stress the importance of making safety a community responsibility. Together, we can help get everyone home safely,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “If an accident does happen, do the right thing – stay at the scene and call for help. This effort could save a life.”
“It is important to stay at the scene if you are involved in a traffic crash,” said Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association. “Hit-and-run crashes are against the law and often lead to criminal penalties. They also hamper law enforcement and drain resources due to prolonged investigations. On behalf of all Florida sheriffs, I fully support the ‘Stay at the Scene Campaign’ to help resolve the situation properly.”
FPCA President Charles Broadway, Chief of Police Clermont PD, said, “The Florida Police Chiefs Association is proud to stand with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and encourage all Floridians to recognize their vital role in roadway safety and ‘Stay at the Scene.’ When you stay at the scene of an accident, you demonstrate responsibility, compassion, and respect for the law and your fellow citizens. Your decision not only aids in a swift and effective response that could save lives but also embodies the spirit of community and care we value in our state. Together, let’s continue to make Florida’s roads safer for everyone.”
“Leaving the scene of a crash risks the lives of others and jeopardizes your freedom,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Do the right thing. Be alert on the road and if you are involved in a crash, remain safely on scene and call for help.”