Gwyn TophamTransport correspondentThursday 12 January 2017 00.01 GMT
The number of hit-and-run accidents on Britain’s roads has increased, in part due to people thinking an incident not serious enough – or being unaware of the legal requirement – to report it or leave their details, according to research by insurers and criminologists.
Insurers warned that while victims of hit and run accidents often suffer long-term physical and emotional impacts, the practice was becoming more prevalent, and they called for measures including a national campaign promoting accident responsibility awareness.
Just over 12%, or 17,122, of the 140,056 road traffic accidents causing casualties in 2015 involved a hit-and-run incident, according to Department for Transport figures – up from a rate of just over 10%, or 16,667 in 2014.
While the number of serious road accidents overall has declined, the percentage involving hit-and-runs is now at the highest level in more than a decade.
Researchers found that many of those drivers eventually convicted said they were unaware of their legal responsibilities. A study by the department of criminology at the University of Leicester, surveying almost 700 hit-and-run offenders, found that while some were thinking about their own self-preservation, or were under the influence of alcohol, many did not consider the incident to be serious and used that as a justification for failing to report it.
Dr Matt Hopkins of the University of Leicester said the reasons why people hit and run were complex, but, he added: “Interestingly, there seems to be a public perception that motoring offences are not ‘real crimes’ and therefore there is a tendency for drivers to justify their behaviour.”