A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that hit-and-run crashes killed 2,049 people in the U.S. in 2016, a record high and a 60 percent increase since 2009. Unsurprisingly, most of the victims — nearly 65 percent — were pedestrians or bicyclists.

Since 2009, hit-and-run deaths have risen an average of 7.2 percent each year. Fatalities per capita were highest in New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida, and lowest in New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota.

The report estimated there were 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, representing 11.7 percent of all crashes. That means there are more than one hit-and-run crash every minute in the U.S. — about one every 43 seconds, AAA said. Since 2006, there have been an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes each year in the U.S.

"Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction," Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a release. "Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem."

Researchers mined data from two different National Highway Traffic Safety Administration databases to quantify fatal and non-fatal hit-and-run crashes, as well as those that resulted in injuries. The 2016 fatality figure was the highest number since NHTSA began compiling figures on fatal vehicle crashes in 1975. There were 1,980 hit-and-run crashes in 2016.

The rise in fatalities comes despite laws in every state that make it illegal for drivers involved in a crash to leave the scene. Drivers who are found guilty can face steep fines, lose their license or face prison time.
Hit-and-run crashes have been on a three-year increase since 2013, with the percentage of all traffic fatalities also rising to a three-year high of 5.5 percent in 2016. AAA also said the rate of hit-and-run crashes in the U.S. is higher than that of many other developed nations that make data available. Many European countries reported rates of fatal hit-and-runs at 3 percent or less, while the rate was 1.8 percent in Singapore. About one in five pedestrian deaths in the U.S. involve a hit-and-run crash, compared to just 1 percent of vehicle-driver deaths.

You can access the report here.

Here's a guide we published in 2017 on how to safely and effectively handle a hit-and-run accident.

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