Hit and Run “Epidemic” in Colorado

A recent investigation by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS/9News has revealed some disturbing statistics about the increase in hit and run incidents in Colorado. DUI is not the only traffic crime that has been talked about recently.

Even though overall traffic deaths in Colorado have fallen considerably over the past few years, in 2012, 34 people were killed across Colorado by hit and run drivers, double the number from the year before.

Over the same period of time, Colorado rose to tenth in the nation in terms of hit and run deaths per capita.

Of the 104 people killed in hit and run incidents between 2008 and 2012, nearly two-thirds were pedestrians or bicyclists.

Between 2011 and 2013, approximately 1,300 people in an area including Denver, Aurora and Lakewood, were injured or killed in hit and run accidents. The injuries ranged from bruises to paralysis. In Lakewood, the resulting injuries were particularly severe, with one in every thirteen such incidents resulting in death or “incapacitating” trauma.

Denver police reported a staggering 18,662 hit and run accidents of all types during the past three years – an average of 17 per day.

Sara Solnick, chair of the of the Economics Department at the University of Vermont, conducted a study in the 1990s on pedestrian hit-and-run deaths which showed that drivers who fled felt they had more to lose by staying on the scene.

“If they had a suspended license, or they didn’t have a license or they were underage, they were far more likely to do the hit-and-run,” Solnick said. Another major factor was alcohol, which drivers (correctly) believed was more likely to result in harsher punishment for a DUI conviction involving an accident.

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