News & Resources
There is No Known Psychological Profile Common to Hit and Run Drivers
In December, 2014, ABC News reported the arrest of a man on suspicion of involvement in two fires that killed two people. These incidents came about nine months after his arrest for a DWI hit-and-run accident that killed two good Samaritans. He was released on bond after that incident.
About 1,600 people lose their lives to hit-and-run drivers every year. Alcohol or drugs are often underlying factors in hit-and-run accidents. Some psychologists express theories about why people are compelled to leave the scene rather than stay to help victims. However, they admit that formal studies are difficult considering that many hit-and-run drivers are never caught.
Theories on Why Drivers Hit and Run Extend Beyond the Obvious
After three deadly hit-and-run accidents occurred within eight days in Baltimore, Maryland, the Baltimore Sun looked for answers about how people can walk away from injury victims who are clearly in need of help. The following are some theories:
• Emotional loss of control: The rush of fear, shame and guilt accompanying an accident override normal instincts for self-control. These people may be more likely to turn themselves in once they have time to calm down and reflect, although no statistics are readily-available to support this theory.
• Loss of executive functions from intoxication: On the surface, it seems clear that individuals who cause accidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol simply do not want to get caught for DWI. However, some psychologists point out that a state of intoxication reduces the ability to make rational decisions.
• Consequences versus values: After an upbringing that focused on good behavior and telling the truth, individuals can go in one of two directions after causing an action. When children are rewarded for honestly taking the blame for bad behavior, they may be more likely to remain at the accident scene. Those whose honesty was met with punishment might hit and run later in life.
• Avoidance of unfair punishment: When people believe they were not at fault for an accident, they may flee the scene rather than risk unfair accusation and the consequences that go with it.
Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Beware
Regardless of the underlying psychological factors of hit-and-run offenders, our Charlotte hit and run lawyers cannot over-emphasize the importance of taking every precaution while on a bicycle — and even more so when on foot. According to the most recent statistics from the North Carolina Department of transportation, 19 of the drivers involved in pedestrian accidents left the accident scene.
Individuals who do not benefit from the physical protection provided by a car should never assume that any vehicle will yield the right-of-way or even see them. Always recognize the risks and err on the side of caution, particularly when crossing or walking on any road.