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Florida Highway Patrol Seeks To Curb Hit-And-Runs

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The Florida Highway Patrol is joining with other law enforcement in fighting the increasing number of hit-and-run accidents in the state. The program is dubbed “Hit-and-Run: Bad to Worse.”

Officials say there were a record 800,000 hit-and-run crashes across Florida in 2014, up seven percent from the previous year. And the number of such accidents resulting in fatalities rose by 23%.

FHP Lt. Steve Preston says there are many reasons for people choose not to stay at the scene of an accident, in which they’re involved.

“Some people may be wanted (by the law) or they may not have a driver’s license,” said Preston. “It could be an insurance issue, they could be impaired, or they could just simply be scared.”

In Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, more than 4,800 hit-and-run accidents were investigated – 14 involving deaths. In Pensacola, police report 435 such crashes last year, up from 221 in 2012. The percentage of injuries rose during that time frame from 25-38%.

If drivers believe they can outrun their problems by leaving an accident site, FHP says they’re actually going from bad to worse – hence the program’s name. State lawmakers last year beefed up the penalties for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run in some circumstances.

“Leaving the scene of a crash that results in serious bodily injury (or death) is a second-degree felony now,” Preston said. “It used to be third-degree. And it’s a minimum mandatory prison term of four years (upon conviction)."

Part of the “Bad to Worse” program is “CRASH.” That’s an acronym to remind drivers what to do if they’re involved in an accident.

  • Call law enforcement
  • Remain calm
  • Attain accident information
  • Sketch the crash scene for investigators
  • Help the injured

That information to be attained – the “A” in “CRASH” – involves license plate numbers; vehicle and driver information and talk to any possible witnesses.
FHP is seeking information on three unsolved fatal hit-and-run crashes in the Pensacola area. One occurred on November 23, 2007 on Massachusetts Avenue, along with two from earlier this year – January 19 on U-S 29, and January 22 near Ladd Drive.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FHP at 484-5000, or Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers 436-9307.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.