Federal Data: Fatal Hit and Run Crashes More Common

By Brady Smith, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Around midnight on June 27th, Andy Paul of Cedar Rapids was riding his Harley Davidson north on the stretch of Interstate 380 near the H Avenue exit, when the unexpected happened.

“Just before the H Avenue exit, a dark-colored SUV came up on my left-hand side,” Paul said, “and they just tapped their brakes and came over, and when they came over, their rear went right into the front end of my bike.”

Paul and his bike slid on their left side down the interstate, but the driver of the SUV kept going.

“When I finally stopped, I was still in the traffic lanes, so I had to get up and crawl over onto the shoulder,” Paul recalled.

He spent a few hours in the hospital, and he knows he’s lucky. Not only because he made it out with scrapes and bruises, but because he also wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time.

“I had on gloves, boots, jeans, and a hooded sweatshirt,” said Paul. “They found pieces of my sweatshirt embedded in my arm.”

Cedar Rapids Police investigated a little more than 700 hit and runs last year, and 354 this year so far. Most of those involve unoccupied vehicles, but every so often, a pedestrian or motorcycle driver is involved.

Nationally, federal data indicates deadly hit-and-run crashes are on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded an increase of nearly 200 such incidents between 2009 and 2011.

FATAL HIT AND RUN CRASHES (source: NHTSA)

•2009: 1,274

•2010: 1,393

•2011: 1,449

Paul acknowledges the possibility that the driver who hit him may have not even realized it.

“They could have just woke up the next morning and saw damage on their vehicle and wondered where it came from.”

But he hopes what happened to him will be a wake-up call to drivers who intentionally leave the scene of a crash.

“You know, I’m a pretty forgiving person. I get it, stuff happens. But running away doesn’t do anything but hurt the other family.”

Police said if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, to try to identify a license plate number, a vehicle make and model, and driver description if possible.

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