Multiple factors lead to a hit-and-run crash, from the number of pedestrians to the characteristics of the hit-and-run driver.
Most of the people killed in hit-and-runs are pedestrians, who aren’t protected by the body of a car.
Environmental factors such as lighting, the shape of roadways, and general surveillance can affect the likelihood of hit-and-runs. Areas with less lighting have more car accidents in general. The more visibility, the less likely someone is to commit a hit-and-run. In general, heavy-traffic areas with more surveillance have fewer hit-and-runs than darker, more private areas.
In 2019, 61 percent of motor vehicle crashes involving hit-and-runs had male drivers, compared with 39 percent of female drivers, according to the most recent NHTSA data. The large majority of drivers were between the ages of 25 and 54, making young and middle-aged male drivers more likely to cause hit-and-runs than any other group.
||Total number of motor vehicle crashes involving hit-and-runs
||Percentage of total hit-and-runs
|55 and above
Another characteristic of many drivers in hit-and-runs was a history of DUIs, license suspensions, or high blood alcohol concentrations at the time of the arrest. DUIs correlate with male drivers: In 2019, 206 percent more men were arrested for DUIs than women. For men 65 and older, that number increases to 341 percent.
||Total percentage of men arrested for DUIs in 2019
||Total percentage of women arrested for DUIs in 2019
||How many more men were arrested for DUIs than women in 2019?
|65 and over
Men are also disproportionately killed in traffic accidents. Although men and women both make up 50 percent of all licensed drivers, men make up 71 percent of all traffic fatality victims.
||Total number of people killed in traffic accidents in 2019 in the U.S.
||Percentage of the total number of car accidents
||Percentage of the total number of licensed drivers
Across all traffic fatalities, including hit-and-runs, the plurality of victims are between the ages of 25 and 34. While this group makes up 14 percent of the total U.S. population, they are killed in 18 percent of all traffic accidents. Therefore, the most likely person to die in a hit-and-run is a male between the ages of 25 and 34.
The culprits in hit-and-runs often drive older cars, suggesting a lower socioeconomic status, according to AAA data. The costs of an at-fault accident could be high, especially for those who drive without insurance — property damage, bodily injuries, state penalties and fees, and possibly even years in prison. Therefore, many people flee the scene to avoid law enforcement and the costs of the accident, but they become guilty of a greater crime (a hit-and-run) by doing so.5