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Why Do Drivers Flee Scenes of Accidents?

Lately, we’ve been focusing on pedestrian safety in Texas and throughout the United States. First, we discussed how pedestrian deaths from car accidents had reached a 30-year high across the nation. Many experts believe this increase is being caused by unsafe road design and an increased number of pedestrians using them. Then, we noted how Texas is the eighth most dangerous state for pedestrians. Finally, we’ve asked if cell phone usage and SUVs are increasing the risk for pedestrians.

When a person flees the scene of an accident, it makes the aftermath of it even more difficult for victims and their families to overcome. Yet, in 2015, there were over 2,000 hit-and-run accidents each year. So, why do hit and runs involving pedestrians happen so frequently?

The Psychology Behind Hit & Run Accidents

One explanation for hit and run accidents can be found by looking at how the human brain reacts to extreme situations. An article from The Mercury Times contains stories that seem almost too absurd to be true. In some instances, when a car hits a pedestrian or a cyclist, drivers keep driving despite having the person they hit stuck on their car. In one instance, a cyclist was stuck in a driver’s windshield and wasn’t noticed by the driver until they stopped.

According to psychologist Emanuel Robinson, the human brain reacts to situations in unexpected ways. Robinson said that some people react emotionally to an accident and stay at the scene to argue with bystanders.

“Anytime we get into an accident we get emotional,” said Robinson. “The other side of that is people who just want out of here, ‘I’m scared, I don’t know what to do with this, I’m just going to leave.’ We also get in a situation where people are really good at rationalizing. Where people say, ‘It was nothing, just a little scrape, I don’t need to stay around.’”

One Belgian study examined hit and run cases by studying 53 offenders who were caught after fleeing the scene of an accident. It found that 21 of them acted out of self-preservation and 13 of them thought their accident wasn’t serious enough to report. The rest were concerned about drinking, were worried about insurance costs, or feared another unrelated crime from being discovered if they stayed. However, the study did find a small set of people who acted out of a “lack of emotion.” The study concluded that some individuals lack the “good moral judgment” to stay at the scene of an accident.

Hit and run accidents are never acceptable. Call the team from Arnold & Itkin LLP today at (888) 493-1629 if you’re suffering because of a hit and run accident. Our car accident lawyers are ready to provide a free consultation to start finding the answers you deserve.


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