AutoInsurance.com
Published: March 8, 2022Last updated: April 19, 2022

The State of Hit-and-Runs in the U.S. 

These illegal incidents affect 2 percent of all licensed drivers.

A hit-and-run is when someone hits someone else’s car and then leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging any information. A hit-and-run could increase your car insurance rates, even if the collision wasn’t your fault. And if you lack the proper coverage, you may have to pay for injuries or property damages out of pocket.

Hit-and-runs are relatively common in the United States, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2019). Analyzing other federal data, we found these statistics:

  • From 2015 to 2019, nearly 4 million people were involved in hit-and-runs. Nearly 10,000 of these incidents involved fatalities.
  • That being said, the large majority of hit-and-runs, 73 percent, were property damage only.
  • In this time period, 2 percent of all licensed drivers in the U.S. were involved in hit-and-runs.
  • The South has the most fatal hit-and-runs per capita, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast respectively.
  • California had the most fatal hit-and-runs in 2016 at 337. However, New Mexico had the highest per capita rate — 148 per 100,000 residents, which is 142 percent higher than the national average.

How Common Are Hit-and-Runs?

From 2015 to 2019, there were nearly 4 million hit-and-runs in the U.S.

Year Total estimated number of hit-and-runs Number of fatal motor vehicle hit-and-runs Estimated number of injury-only hit-and-runs Estimated number of property damage-only hit-and-runs
2015 733,449 1,763 182,588 549,098
2016 842,177 2,012 248,294 591,871
2017 783,430 1,956 195,731 585,743
2018 809,914 1,995 215,329 592,590
2019 814,457 1,939 240,758 571,7601

Hit and run
Out of these accidents, 73 percent resulted in property damage only, 27 percent were injury only, and less than 1 percent were fatal.

In case you’re wondering how likely hit-and-runs are, only 2 percent of drivers experienced them in 2019. To break it down by the damages and injuries, 1 percent of U.S. adults experienced hit-and-runs with property damage only, and less than 1 percent involved injuries or deaths.

Worst and Best Areas for Fatal Hit-and-Runs

Fatal hit-and-runs are more common in certain areas than others, according to the latest data from AAA and the U.S. Census Bureau (2016).

By Region

The South had the most fatal hit-and-runs in 2016 — 0.65 per 100,000 inhabitants. The Northeast had the lowest rates at 0.41 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Region Average number of fatal hit-and-runs per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016 (low to high)
Northeast 0.41
Midwest 0.44
West 0.6
South 0.652

By State

New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina have the highest rates of fatal hit-and-runs. The states with the lowest per capita rates are Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Utah, and Nevada.

State Number of fatal hit-and-runs per 100,000 residents in 2016 (high to low)
New Mexico 1.48
Nevada 1.1
Florida 1
Louisiana 0.9
South Carolina 0.89
Washington, D.C. 0.87
California 0.86
Hawaii 0.84
Texas 0.83
Arizona 0.79
Delaware 0.74
Tennessee 0.72
Georgia 0.7
Indiana 0.68
Michigan 0.67
Connecticut 0.67
Oklahoma 0.64
North Carolina 0.61
West Virginia 0.6
Colorado 0.56
Alaska 0.54
Illinois 0.54
Idaho 0.53
Maine 0.53
Ohio 0.52
Kentucky 0.52
Kansas 0.52
Arkansas 0.5
Missouri 0.49
New Jersey 0.48
Vermont 0.48
Maryland 0.42
North Dakota 0.4
Pennsylvania 0.39
Montana 0.38
Virginia 0.38
Alabama 0.35
Mississippi 0.33
Wisconsin 0.33
Minnesota 0.33
Iowa 0.32
New York 0.3
New Hampshire 0.3
Oregon 0.29
Massachusetts 0.29
Rhode Island 0.28
Nebraska 0.26
Utah 0.2
Washington 0.18
South Dakota 0.12
Wyoming 0

Why Do Certain Areas Have More Hit-and-Runs?

Multiple factors lead to a hit-and-run crash, from the number of pedestrians to the characteristics of the hit-and-run driver.

More Pedestrians

Most of the people killed in hit-and-runs are pedestrians, who aren’t protected by the body of a car.

Environmental Factors

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.

Driver Characteristics

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.

Age group Total number of motor vehicle crashes involving hit-and-runs Percentage of total hit-and-runs
0-15 26,494 2%
16-24 293,810 21%
25-54 791,039 57%
55 and above 288,407 21%

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.

Age group 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?
15-24 2.67% 0.98% 173%
25-29 0.74% 0.28% 169%
30-34 0.61% 0.23% 165%
35-39 0.55% 0.20% 179%
40-44 0.46% 0.16% 189%
45-49 0.37% 0.13% 180%
50-54 0.31% 0.11% 191%
55-59 0.26% 0.08% 218%
60-64 0.17% 0.05% 256%
65 and over 0.06% 0.01% 341%
Average 0.62% 0.22% 206%3

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.

Sex 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
Male 25,634 71% 50%
Female 10,420 29% 50%
Unknown 42 0% 0%4

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

Hit-and-Run Coverage

If someone hits your parked car, or if someone hits your car and then leaves, will your car insurance cover your property damages and bodily injuries? It depends on your coverages and limits.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Insurance companies can apply your uninsured motorist coverage to hit-and-runs to pay your medical bills. Many states do not require you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, but we recommend it, considering that an estimated 12 percent of drivers across the nation were uninsured as of 20196.

Driver characteristics

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage is another coverage that you could apply to property damage from hit-and-runs, although its main usage is for accidents you’ve caused. No state requires collision insurance, but it’s part of full coverage, along with comprehensive coverage, medical payments coverage, and liability coverage.

Medical Payments Coverage and Personal Injury Protection

Finally, you can apply either medical payments coverage or personal injury protection (PIP) to the costs of your injuries. While medical payments coverage will cover your medical bills, PIP will also cover any wages you lost or child care you had to pay for as a result of the accident.

Recap

Hit-and-runs are a major reason why purchasing full-coverage car insurance and uninsured motorist coverage is essential. If you lack these coverages and only have the minimum coverage your state requires, you may have to pay for the costs out of pocket if you’re involved in a crash. To see more of our car insurance research, read about state driving statistics, the statistics on uninsured motorists, or the state of potholes in the U.S.

Methodology

To perform this research, we combined third-party data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Insurance Research Council, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Citations

  1. Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST). NHTSA. (2022, Mar 2).
    https://cdan.dot.gov/query

  2. State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2019. United States Census Bureau. (2021, Nov 4).
    https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-state-total.html

  3. 2019 Crime in the United States. FBI.
    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/table-39

  4. Highway Statistics 2019. NHTSA. (2021, Sep 9).
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2019/

  5. Hit-and-Run Crashes: Prevalence, Contributing Factors and Countermeasures. AAA.
    https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/18-0058_Hit-and-Run-Brief_FINALv2.pdf

  6. Uninsured Motorists, 2021 Edition. NHTSA. (2021, Mar 22).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/research-publications/uninsured-motorists-2021-edition