New report shows drivers are unaware of the serious consequences of failing to stop after an accident

A new report by our Department of Criminology provides insight into the reasons why drivers fail to stop after an accident. Alarmingly, a large number of defendants involved in the study didn’t think the incident was serious enough to report or were unaware of the legal requirement to report it.

The report suggests that victims of ‘hit and run’ accidents and their families suffer potentially long-term physical and emotional impacts. To highlight the scale of the problem in the UK, in just over 12% of road traffic accidents reported to the police where someone is injured (17,122), a ‘hit and run’ driver is involved. This is the second year in succession showing an increase, reversing the trend seen over the past decade.

Drivers who ‘hit and run’ can be convicted of the serious offences of  failing to stop and failing to report an accident which could lead to punishments ranging from five to ten penalty points, discretionary disqualification, an unlimited fine or even imprisonment.

The research has been commissioned by MIB (Motor Insurers’ Bureau) which compensates the innocent victims of accidents with uninsured and ‘hit and run’ drivers.

The research involved a survey of 695 people who had been convicted of committing a ‘hit and run’ offence and subsequent interviews, providing insights into the reasons why people leave the scene of an accident.

The report goes on to categorise hit and run drivers into six groups that are linked to these motivational behaviours: the oblivious, the uncertain departers, the panickers and the rational escapists, the intimidated and the impaired or ‘non compos mentis.’

Dr Matt Hopkins from the Department of Criminology said: “The reasons behind why people hit and run are complex but by breaking drivers down into categories we start to understand their motivations for leaving the scene of an accident. 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.”