Environmentalists always lament on how more people should be riding bikes: to work, to the grocery store, to the local library. In ultra-liberal cities like Seattle, this has become a cultural staple. With more bikes on the road, however, that means more hit-and-run fatalities.
According to The Wall Street Journal, hit-and-run crash deaths are "rising nationwide, and pedestrians and bicyclists account for close to 70% of the victims as more people cycle to work and motor-vehicle fatalities are at a near-decade-high level."
Since 2009, the number of hit-and-run fatalities has jumped a whopping 61%, according to data collected from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. As of 2016, about 68% of hit-and-run incidences were against pedestrians or cyclists. That number stood at just 61% a decade earlier. Of the 1,980 hit-and-run accidents in 2016, as many as 2,049 people were killed.
“On the one hand, these statistics are a bit deflating. On the other hand, we can hope they serve as a wake-up call,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research.
One reason for the uptick is that " deadly car crashes are up overall," reports the WSJ. The National Safety Council states that Traffic-related fatalities surpassed 40,000 last year.
Nelson cites the overuse of smartphones as one of the reasons. However, he also cites public health officials encouraging people to walk and bike more, which inevitably leave people vulnerable to hit-and-run. His solution: bike lanes and walkways protected by barriers, which wreak havoc on parking or travel lanes.
To curtail more hit-and-run accidents, states have made it illegal for drivers to flee the scene, passing harsher penalties that include jail time. However, even with stricter laws, the number of crimes has not gone down.