In Colorado, hit-and-run accidents are growing each year, but you may be surprised at just how bad the problem has become. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, in 2014, the hit-and-run epidemic reached a 7-year high, claiming 22 lives and injuring more than one person every day in the Denver metro area. And that’s only part of the story. Check out these other staggering hit-and-run statistics:
- Between 2011-2013, 28 percent of all accidents in Denver involved someone leaving the scene. The national average is closer to 10 percent.
- Almost three times a month, someone is killed in Colorado by a motorist who then flees the scene.
- Hit-and-run fatalities are rising in Colorado as overall traffic deaths are falling. In 2012, 34 people were killed across Colorado by hit-and-run drivers, almost double the 18 deaths the year before.
- Colorado is 10th in the nation when it comes to the number of hit-and-run fatalities.
- Since 2008, Colorado hit-and-run fatalities have grown by a whopping 67 percent.
- Almost two-thirds of Colorado hit-and-run victims are pedestrians or bicyclists.
- 72 percent of fatal hit-and-run victims are male, and those ages 50-59 are the most vulnerable, accounting for 32 percent of all deaths.
- Between 2011 and 2013, about 1,300 people in the metro area’s three largest cities – Denver, Aurora and Lakewood – were injured or killed in hit-and-run accidents.
- In the past three years, Denver police reported 18,662 hit-and run-accidents of all types, both injury and non-injury.
- The most dangerous road in the city and county of Denver for hit-and-runs is Federal Boulevard with an average of almost two hit-and-runs involving injury every month.
- Colorado’s front range urban corridor, which includes Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs, accounts for nearly 75% of all hit-and-run fatalities in the state.
- A 2011 study by the University of California at Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center found hit-and-run fatalities were more likely to occur in western states like Colorado, and that the drivers tend to be young males with prior convictions.
- In 2014, 66 percent of fatal Colorado hit-and-run accidents were alcohol related. Police say intoxication is the number one reason why people flee.
To stem this troubling trend, last year state lawmakers doubled the statute of limitations in fatal hit-and-runs from 5 to 10 years and created a statewide alert system, called the Medina Alert, which enlists the public in helping police identify and track down a suspect’s vehicle after they’ve fled the scene, often leaving victims without critical medical assistance. The new law gives Colorado prosecutors twice as long to file hit-and-run vehicular homicide charges, providing police with more time to find offenders.
“It’s a tremendously huge problem,” says Larry Stevenson, former Denver police officer and founder of the Medina Alerts. “When a hit-and-run occurs, law enforcement is looking for a ghost.”
The new law goes a long way towards giving law enforcement the ability to solve hit-and-runs, which in turn helps victims and their families bring civil cases against these otherwise unknown drivers. “The families of victims can now feel more confident that the crime against their loved one will not go unsolved,” says State Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, one of the bill’s sponsors.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a hit-and-run driver, you may be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses, physical and emotional suffering, funeral expenses (in cases of wrongful death), and other damages. A knowledgeable hit-and-run attorney can help you navigate through this confusing and often emotional process to get the justice you and your family deserve.