Interview surveys of convicted hit-and-run drivers reveal poor understanding of law

A recently published report from the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester has found that almost half of drivers convicted of hit-and-run offences say they would not have left the scene of the incident if they had known it was against the law to do so. The department chose to conduct an interview survey on the reasons why motorists hit and run.

Why choose this group to interview?

Public help is often crucial to identifying hit-and-run drivers, and with a significant proportion of collisions involving car accidents and pedestrians, it’s important to know more about why drivers choose to leave the scene. The research, which interviewed 695 people, discovered the following key responses:
• 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 research found that over 50% of respondents were traced through pedestrian or driver witnesses.

When planning travel and public transport developments, all sorts of safety and traffic flow considerations are part of the process. However, it’s impossible to plan for incidents like hit-and-run offences, although these may be more likely to occur if there is poor provision for pedestrian and bike safety, for example, leading to people being forced to use the roads in an unsafe manner.

Commenting on the interim findings, Senior Lecturer 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.”

Interview surveys from RDS

At Road Data Services we conduct a wide range of surveys, including face-to-face interview surveys. These can help to compile a clear picture around a particular topic, giving personal and anecdotal data that can be used alongside more traditional data gathered in traffic surveys, speed surveys and parking surveys to ensure new developments are planned with traffic and pedestrian safety in mind.

To find out more about how we can help with your project, please contact us today.

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