Los Angeles Officials Cracking Down on Hit and Run Offenders

Hit and run driver looking at child's bike

Car accidents have the power to change lives in the blink of an eye, and while collisions are often unpredictable and shocking, the drivers involved are still responsible for the damages. Auto insurance policies help protect those who aren’t at fault, but only if the person at fault hangs around long enough to exchange their insurance information with the other driver. When the motorist at fault flees the scene of an accident, who is held responsible? What course of action should be taken if someone is injured – or even killed – by a motorist who then makes a hasty getaway? Los Angeles city officials are working to answer that question and apprehend irresponsible hit-and-run offenders.

Soon, an alert system will be launching to help everyday motorists track down the perpetrators of hit-and-run collisions. The make, model, license plate number, and color of vehicles involved in a hit-and-run will be publicized and made available to motorists via several channels of communication from taxi dispatch radios to signs on highways and more. Traffic officials hope that the availability of this information will encourage citizens to call in tips, but there is more at stake here for those who may have vital information – rewards up to $50,000 are being offered to those who help apprehend offenders.

The rewards offered and the potential punishments for hit-and-run crimes are listed below…

If someone is killed…
– Up to $50,000 will be rewarded to whoever called in the tip.
– The perpetrator will be fined up to $10,000 and face 4 years in prison.

If someone is badly injured…
– Up to $25,000 will be rewarded to whoever called in the tip.
– The perpetrator will be fined up to $10,000 and face 4 years in prison.

If someone is hurt but not seriously injured…
– Up to $5,000 will be rewarded to whoever called in the tip.
– The perpetrator will be fined up to $1,000 and face up to a year in jail.

If only property is damaged…
– Up to $1,000 will be rewarded to whoever called in the tip.
– The perpetrator will be fined up to $1,000 and face up to a year in jail.

It’s not worth the jail time to avoid a spike in your auto insurance rate. If you are involved in a collision, leaving the scene before exchanging information or waiting for law enforcement is illegal. Make sure that everyone involved is safe, and follow the necessary steps to make sure that the correct authorities are alerted.

Alerts will be distributed in an effort to catch offenders via social media networks Facebook and Twitter as well as Nixle, a website that allows government agencies to share vital information with their constituents. Public transportation workers will also be notified of hit-and-run information via their dispatch systems, including bus drivers and Los Angeles’ 2,300 licensed taxi drivers. These alerts could even expand to other city services like trash trucks and street cleaners.

In 2014, roughly 20,000 hit-and-run collisions occurred in Los Angeles. Of those, the vast majority only involved property damage, but 27 deaths still occurred, and another 144 people are severely injured. From 2008 to 2012, only one in five hit-and-run cases were closed, and less than half of them ended in an arrest. Modeled after a similar (and very successful) system established in Denver, this new alert system may be a step in the right direction.

In the meantime, you can keep an eye out for offenders, consider comprehensive vehicle insurance to supplement your liability insurance, and, most importantly, be a responsible and accountable citizen. Make sure to follow the correct steps after a collision, and you might even save a life.

How could Los Angeles further lower the rate of hit-and-run collisions? How do you think this alert system will effect hit-and-run culture? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!