New research reveals why drivers hit and run

A new interim report by Dr Matt Hopkins and Sally Chivers from our Department of Criminology has started to identify the reasons why motorists ‘hit and run.’

Survey responses from drivers convicted of ‘hit and run’ offences revealed the following:

  • 50% did not think the accident was serious enough to report or they did not think that they had to report the accident (of this, 29% did not think it was serious enough and 21% were unaware of their responsibility to report an accident)*
  • 45% of those convicted would have stopped and reported the incident if they had known that they had committed an offence by leaving the scene of the accident*
  • 16 to 34 year olds were more likely to leave the scene of an accident because they were not insured, they had been drinking, were scared of the consequences or they ‘panicked’
  • Older drivers (over 34 years old) were more likely to leave the scene if they did not think the accident was serious enough to report
  • 6% of younger drivers (aged 16 -34) said that nothing would have made them stop and report the accident - they were determined to get away with the offence
  • The public plays an important role in tracing ‘hit and run’ drivers: over 50% of respondents were traced through pedestrians and other drivers who witnessed the accident.

Commenting on the interim findings Dr Matt Hopkins said: “As relatively little previous work in relation to ‘hit and run’ accidents has included any personal engagement with offenders, this research is fairly novel.

“Of course, these findings have to be treated with caution, but they do begin to highlight some of the reasons why drivers leave the scene of an accident. For a number of drivers there is clearly confusion about the legal requirement to report an accident, but importantly, some differences are observed between younger and older drivers that could be developed into preventative strategies. Further work is required to gain more detailed understanding of driver motivations to leave the scene from across a range of accident types. This is where the next stage of the research will focus.”

The research was commissioned by MIB which compensates the innocent victims of accidents with uninsured and ‘hit and run’ drivers.