Florida

Florida Highway Patrol Shares Message For Drivers During Hit-And-Run Awareness Month

According to statistics from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, hit-and-run crashes on Florida roads average over 103,000 per year.

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February is Hit-and-Run Awareness Month. In South Florida, leaving the scene of a crash has become all too common. 

Thursday morning, a woman was walking along Southwest 22nd Terrace and Southwest 27th Avenue in Miami, when police say she was struck by a hit-and-run driver who took off. 

On Jan. 31, Aristides Maza Duerto says he was on a routine bicycle ride going south on Crandon Boulevard near the entrance of Key Biscayne, when his cousin, Carlos Trevisson Maza, was hit by a car. 

“He had two frontal concussions, four broken ribs and one punctured lung,” said Aristides Maza Duerto. 

Over three weeks since the crash, the 48-year-old is still in the hospital with severe injuries after he flipped off his bike from the impact.  

“He is not himself yet. He can’t do simple math. The doctors say full recovery could take between three or six months,” said Maza Duerto.

His cousin is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Saturday, but he has a long road to recovery and hefty hospital bills. The driver at fault is still at large. 

These scenes play out all too often in the Sunshine State. According to statistics from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, hit-and-run crashes on Florida roads average over 103,000 per year. Over the past five years, there were 1,251 fatalities from hit-and-runs in Florida. 

The numbers recently went down, but leaving the scene of an accident has become a disturbing trend. 

“In the last year of 2020, we had a lot of increase in hit-and-run crashes. In 2022, that number decreased to approximately 105,000 hit-and-run crashes but that’s still a lot for South Florida and Florida overall. That includes in our fatality rates, we have approximately 266 fatalities that were a cause of a hit and run crash so that’s still very major,” said Lieutenant Indiana Miranda with the Florida Highway Patrol. 

Troopers say there could be various reasons why people don’t stop. 

“A lot of people that leave the scene, one is panic," said Lieutenant Miranda. "We have a lot of first-time drivers, we have a lot of tourism and a lot of people leave because they don’t have insurance. People don’t have a driver's license or it’s suspended."

As part of Hit and Run Awareness Month, FHP wants to remind drivers that there are stiff consequences for leaving the scene. 

“When you have property damage or any injuries you can spend up to 60 days in jail and you have high fines and attorneys fees, court fees and a $500 fine. Now if that results in a death where somebody dies as a result of that crash then you can face up to 30 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine,” said Lieutenant Miranda. 

“Accidents happen, but then the moment you leave, it is a felony,” said Maza Duerto.

If you have information on a hit-and-run crash, you can report it by calling *FHP (*347) or report it anonymously to Florida Crime Stoppers by calling **TIPS (**8477). 

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