Thursday, October 27, 2011

What's with all the hit-and-run drivers lately?

Is it a symptom of broader economic woes, a backlash against the expanding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the more forward-looking American cities (too often I see badly misinformed comments in newspaper articles that bicyclists and pedestrians "don't pay" for these facilities), or something else?

I had my first experience with a hit-and-run driver this summer, fortunately while I was driving my car to work rather than bike-commuting. I made a right turn on a green light and a driver to my left ran a red light, plowed into the side of my car, wobbled a bit as if deciding whether or not to pull over, and kept going. I believe he was doing about 40 mph when he hit me, and there were no signs that he attempted to brake beforehand.

Fortunately for me, the driver who'd been right behind Mr. Hit and Run saw the whole thing and returned to the scene as a witness by the time the police detective arrived to investigate. Unlike me, he also supplied a full license plate number (I only got the second half of it -- which was probably wrong -- from the rapidly receding car). I haven't heard yet if they caught the guy, but they should have enough information to do so if more important police investigations don't intervene.

My sincere condolences go out to those who have not been as fortunate as I was in my hit-and-run encounter (while my car was nearly totaled, I was unharmed). I will be very happy if some of the hit-and-run drivers who killed or injured people in the Seattle area this year get caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law before the idiot who ran into me. But still, it would be nice if some of the drivers who're impaired, angry, or distracted enough to cause a collision get taken off the road before it's too late and they hurt someone far worse than they banged up my car.