AAA Report: Hit-and-run crashes happen every minute in US

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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals almost 682,000 hit-and-run crashes happen every year in the U.S.

The new study found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run collisions - 65 percent - were pedestrians or cyclists and that nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths over the last decade were caused by hit-and-run crashes, compared to 1 percent of driver fatalities.

AAA researchers examined common characteristics in hit-and-run crashes and found that an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006, according to the release.

AAA said more than one hit-and-run crash happens every minute.

"Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction", Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said.

New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida topped the list of states with the highest death rates from hit-and-run crashes, while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota recorded the lowest rates.

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There were more than 2,000 deaths in 2016, which is a 60-percent increase since 2009, according to AAA. The state has seen higher numbers before, with the number of deaths in the upper 40s in 2007, 2008 and 2012, but Pennsylvania's numbers usually stay in the upper 20s or 30s. Drivers made up 18.5 percent of the deaths (380 fatalities), passengers were 11.2 percent of the deaths (229 fatalities), and bicyclists made up 8.2 percent of the deaths (169 fatalities). "A 50 percent increase is a pretty large increase over an about seven-year span".

To review state-by-state hit and run laws, check out AAA's info sheet.

If a driver is involved in a crash, AAA suggests assisting the victim, staying visible to other drivers and to file a police report. Some states do not require drivers to render aid or notify police. With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to be alert on the road in order to avoid a deadly crash and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.

"It is every driver's legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle", said Susan Hiltz, Michigan public affairs director, AAA - The Auto Club Group.

It is important for people to understand after being involved in a vehicle crash, if they leave the scene, they can be penalized with a $500 fine, go to jail for up to 2 months, or lose their license.