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New system to catch hit-and run drivers now in effect in California

A newly effective California law may improve the resolution of hit-and-run crashes, which have been deemed an epidemic in Oakland and other cities.

Hit-and-run crashes have been labeled an epidemic in various parts of California, including Oakland. More than 7,000 hit-and-run cases were reported here during 2013 and 2014 alone, according to The East Bay Express. Troublingly, authorities were only able to resolve about one out of 50 of these cases. This is especially tragic because victims, who may suffer worse outcomes due to the absence of immediate medical attention, may be left without needed recourse.

Fortunately, last year state lawmakers approved a new “Yellow alert” system to help improve the apprehension of hit-and-run drivers. This system, which is now in use, could help give more victims the option of seeking recourse from drivers who fled after causing serious motor vehicle accidents.

A new enforcement tool

The Los Angeles Times explains that the new law lets authorities project information about vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents onto the highway signs that are used to display other alerts, such as Amber alerts. These “Yellow alerts,” which are only broadcast near the scene of hit-and-run crashes, include the following identifying information about each vehicle:

  • Make and model
  • Vehicle color
  • Full or partial license plate number

The effectiveness of this new system remains to be seen. However, according to KTLA News, after a similar system was implemented in Colorado, the apprehension rate in hit-and-run cases jumped to 76 percent. This suggests that the new system could offer significant benefits for California motorists.

Addressing an epidemic

In Oakland, the majority of hit-and-run crashes that lead to injury or death currently go unsolved. According to The East Bay Express, in 2013, just 14 out of 346 reported cases were resolved. In 2014, apprehension rates were even lower; the responsible drivers were only found in 12 cases out of 418.

Tragically, Oakland also experiences one of the highest rates of hit-and-run crashes of any large city in California. The state Office of Traffic Safety uses several metrics, including population and overall driving mileage, to assess where hit-and-run crashes pose the most significant threat. In an assessment of data from 2010 to 2012, the most recent years available, Oakland ranked worst for these accidents out of any city with a population exceeding 250,000 people.

Holding drivers accountable

Sadly, in many hit-and-run cases, the drivers who depart the scene may also be the ones who were at fault in the accident. According to USA Today, research indicates that drivers are more likely to flee from an accident if they lack licenses, have been driving while impaired or have broken other laws. An improvement in apprehension rates could result in more of these drivers being held responsible for their negligent actions.

Anyone who has sustained injuries because of another driver’s negligence may benefit from consulting with a car accident attorney. An attorney might be able to advise a person on documenting the circumstances of the accident and seeking any compensation that may be available from the at-fault driver or other parties.

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