Orange County, California, has seen a number of hit-and-run fatal car accidents involving pedestrians in recent weeks. The Santa Ana Police Department has reported that although the incidents have received significant media attention, there has not been a spike in the number of accidents.
Since 2007, there have been 29 fatal accidents involving pedestrians in Santa Ana; in 5 instances, the driver fled from the scene. Norm Gielda, of the Santa Ana Police Department, noted the primary reasons why drivers do not stop after hitting a pedestrian.
The two primary reasons for failing to stop after an accident are:
- The driver was unlicensed, driving on a suspended or revoked license
- The driver was under the influence
- The road was not constructed for pedestrians (no sidewalks or crosswalks)
Police investigations often reveal that the pedestrian was at fault. For example a witness to a hit and run accident in January stated that the pedestrian was wondering in the street. However, even when the accident was caused by the pedestrian, the driver is required to stop.
If a vehicle is speeding, the chances of a fatal accident increase. And when pedestrians are waking on roads built for high-speed traffic - roads that often make no provision for pedestrians - the risk to pedestrians increases.
Unfortunately, poor people are more likely to be hit by motor vehicles. They are more likely to be walking or waiting for public transportation, circumstances that make them vulnerable to speeding, inattentive or drunk drivers.
Source: Orange County Register, "Hit-and-run: No license, DUI or just plain scared," by Denisse Salazar and Alejandra Molina, Feb. 16, 2012.