Hit-And-Run Drivers: What Are They Thinking?
Hit-And-Run Drivers: What Are They Thinking?

More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to 2018 research by the American Automobile Association. These accidents resulted in a record number of deaths in 2016: 2,049, a 60 percent increase since 2009. Hit-and-run fatalities occur nearly six times a day in the U.S., reports the Washington Post.

With so many accidents causing so much destruction, the obvious question is: Why do so many drivers flee the scene of an accident? What goes through the mind of a hit-and-run driver?

Now, some recent research has provided some insight.

“The brain can do really extreme things,” Emanuel Robinson, a psychologist at Westat’s Center for Transportation, Technology and Safety Research, told the Washington Post. “Anytime we get into an accident we get emotional.”

Although most drivers will stay at the scene of an accident, “the other side of that is people who just want out of here,” Robinson told the Post. “‘I’m scared, I don’t know what to do with this, I’m just going to leave.’”

Another mitigating factor is a driver’s ability to rationalize: “People say, ‘It was nothing, just a little scrape. I don’t need to stay around,’” Robinson said.

Two studies from Europe may shed further light on the mindset of the hit-and-run driver. Both studies – by the Belgian Road Safety Institute and the University of Leicester – “portray the majority of hit-and-run drivers as men under the age of 25,” the Post reports.

The University of Leicester study, which focused on accidents in Britain, studied 53 people convicted of hit-and-run crashes. Of those:

  • 21 panicked into “flight mode”
  • 7 were worried about their drinking
  • 8 claimed they had no knowledge of the crash
  • 13 thought it was too trivial to report.

Additionally, some worried that their insurance premiums would rise, and others wanted to avoid having the police discover unrelated crimes, according to the Post.

The report by the Belgian Road Safety Institute, which included 10 European countries, concluded that 42 percent of the 853 offenders in its study were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

And although strong emotions do motivate most hit-and-run drivers, there are a few for whom the opposite is true and who lack “good moral judgement,” according to the Belgian report.

“For a small group of offenders, it’s not fear or the overwhelming flood of mixed emotion that leads to an inappropriate decision, but there is more of a lack of emotion,” the Belgian report says.

It’s worth keeping in mind that these studies include only drivers who turned themselves in or were caught. Although these results seem fairly representative of the population as a whole, there’s no way to know for sure what was on the mind of the driver who smashed into your car out of nowhere and sped off into the night.

But whatever was on the other driver’s mind at the time, if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should be sure that the other driver will soon be thinking about compensating you for your damages. In Austin, TX, the Evans Law Firm has years of experience representing personal injury victims, including victims of hit-and-run accidents. Call today or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free case consultation.