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P.G., Fairfax County police investigating three separate hit-and-run cases from this past weekend
By: John Townsend, AAA-Mid Atlantic
WASHINGTON, D. C. (Monday, March 2, 2020) ––At least three persons lost their lives in hit-and-run crashes in the Washington metro area this past weekend. Two hit-and-run fatalities occurred in Prince George’s County and another incident occurred in Fairfax County. Approximately seven persons have been killed in fatal collisions involving a hit-and-run on area roadways so far in 2020, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Two fatal hit-and-run crashes occurred in Prince George’s County this weekend. On Sunday morning, March 1, a pedestrian was reportedly fatally struck and killed by at least one and possibly two vehicles on southbound Route 4 at Old Marlboro Pike, in Forestville, according to the Maryland State Police. A day earlier, another pedestrian was fatally struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on I-495 in Prince George’s County. The tragic incident occurred shortly before 5:30 a.m. February 29.
On Leap Year Saturday, a 28-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a hit-and-driver in the Lorton area of Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Police Department released a picture of a possible suspect vehicle and person of interest following a fatal hit-and-run crash that occurred on Saturday around 4:35 p.m. in Lorton. The fatal incident occurred on February 29. These tragic incidents underscore the fact that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists, according to a 2018 study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20% of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period.
All told, 228 persons were killed in crashes involving a driver leaving the scene in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in the four-year period from 2013 to 2016. Even so, 63 of those fatalities occurred in 2016. 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.
“Hit-and-run crashes continue to trend in the wrong direction across the United States and the Washington metro area,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle. While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers- whether they caused the crash or not.”
Hit-and-run crashes killed more than 2,000 people in 2016 alone. More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 – the highest number on record and a 60% increase since 2009. Hit-and-run crashes have claimed several lives in the Washington Metro area so far during 2020.
- A hit-and-run driver struck and killed a 34-year-old pedestrian in the street on the 2400 block of Alabama Avenue near Suitland parkway in Southeast Washington, D.C. Police say the incident occurred at 8:42 p.m. on February 26. The MPDC reports “the pedestrian was rolling in the roadway” when he was fatally struck.
- A 92-year-old man was struck and killed by a driver who fled the fatal scene on the 6900 block of Annapolis Road in Prince George’s County on February 7, 2020. The striking driver did not stay on the scene, according to Prince George’s County Police Department.
- A 49-year-old District resident was killed after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Suitland Parkway near Irving Street SE around 8 p.m. January 29, 2020.
- On New Year’s Day, a 32-year-old pedestrian and resident of the District of Columbia were struck and killed by an SUV at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and L’Enfant Square, Southeast.
Hit-and-run collisions are those in which at least one person involved in a crash flees the scene before offering any (or sufficient) information or aid to the other involved person(s) or fails to properly report the crash. In 2018 AAA researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found:
- An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
- Nearly 65% of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2% each year since 2009.
- Per capita, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates.
Hit-and-run drivers claimed 107 lives in Virginia in the four-year period from 2013 to 2016, or an average of nearly 27 lives per year, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic. In Maryland, 103 persons perished in fatal hit-and-run crashes from 2013 to 2016. It comprises an average of 26 traffic deaths involving hit-and-run drivers per year in Maryland. During the four-year period, hit-and-run drivers struck and killed 18 persons in the District of Columbia, for an average of more than four hit-and-run deaths per year.
|Number of Hit-and-Run Crashes Involving At Least One Fatality|
|District of Columbia||3||2||7||6|
|Benson, A.J., Arnold, L.S., Tefft, B.C., & Horrey, W.J. (2017). Hit-and-Run Crashes: Prevalence, Contributing Factors, and Countermeasures (Research Brief). Washington, D.C.: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.|
During 2016, there were six hit-and-run crashes involving at least one fatality in Washington, D.C., 25 crashes in Maryland involving at least one fatality and 32 crashes in Virginia involving at least one fatality. During the previous year, in 2015, there were seven hit-and-run crashes in the District, 31 in Maryland involving at least one fatality and 23 in Virginia involving at least one fatality. To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:
- Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.
- Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
- Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
- Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.
Every state has laws that make it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene. State penalties vary depending on the type of crash. If found guilty, drivers can face large fines, lose their license or spend time in prison. AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves about specific hit-and-run laws in their state and remain alert on the road to prevent crashes from occurring.