New Data Reveals Alarming Spike in Hit-and-Run Injuries & Deaths in Marion County, IN
The very worst of human nature comes out when people think they can get away with something, or if they know no one is looking.
Leaving the scene of an accident is irresponsible and unlawful. The physical and emotional toll of a hit-and-run accident can be devastating.
Negligent drivers, in most cases thinking only of themselves, cause terrible injury or hardship in someone else’s life and just keep on going, leaving the victims to fend for themselves. It is fundamentally unfair and a violation of society’s core social contract.
Awful as they are, we see hit-and-runs happen all the time here in Indianapolis.
In fact, Indianapolis hit-and-run accidents are sharply on the rise — so much so that it may be time for local leaders to sit up and pay attention.
At Doehrman Buba, we first began to notice this trend in our own work as Indianapolis auto accident attorneys. Soon after, we saw similar reports in the local news media. Consider, for example, this December 2018 report from FOX59: “Indianapolis sees significant increase in hit-and-run crashes as more drivers leave victims for dead.”
The FOX59 report recounts literally thousands of stories about hit-and-run accidents in Indianapolis in recent years.
What’s more, these weren’t the usual tales of someone walking out of the grocery store to find their cars sideswiped in the parking lot. No, tragically, many of these were stories about innocent drivers, passengers, or pedestrians being killed in front of their loved ones, who were forced to watch the perpetrator zoom away.
The FOX report shares some alarming figures from just the last couple of years. But what we wanted to know was this: how much worse has the hit-and-run situation gotten here in Indiana over the last ten years?
Accordingly, we pulled official state data for Marion County and performed an analysis to determine not only the level of increase but also the extent to which these accidents may be getting more serious (in terms of severe injuries and fatalities). We also wanted to know when and where these Indianapolis hit-and-run accidents tend to happen. We share our findings below.
Total Number of Indianapolis Hit-and-Run Accidents: Increase Over a Decade
Let’s begin by looking at the raw total of hit-and-run accidents in Marion County, Indiana for each of the last 11 calendar years on record (the totals for 2018 were not yet available at the time of this writing):
|Year||Total Number of Hit-and-Run Accidents in Marion County|
A few observations:
- Even in 2007, the year-long total of Indianapolis hit-and-run accidents was significant, at well over 5,000. As you can see, that number more or less held steady through 2014, with occasional dips and spikes, even falling below 5,000 just once (in 2011).
- Even the lowest total on this table (4,908) averages out to 409 hit-and-run accidents per month. That’s nearly 14 per day. In other words, in just our county alone — even in our best year — we are seeing more than a dozen hit-and-run accidents every single day, on average.
- There was an explosion in the number of hit-and-run accidents between 2014 and 2015 — an increase of nearly 117% in a single year. By comparison, the second-largest year-over-year increase during this same time period was a growth of only 5.9% (from 2007 to 2008).
- One might have expected 2015 to be a statistical outlier. On the contrary, the next year saw an even bigger increase. From 2015 to 2016, Marion County hit-and-run accidents grew by more than 126%.
- From 2014 to 2016 (a two-year period), the rate of increase was an astounding 147%.
- The numbers fell only slightly in 2017, still remaining well above 7,000 in total, suggesting that these elevated numbers are no fluke. It appears we may have something of a local hit-and-run epidemic on our hands.
- In five short years, from 2011 to 2016, Marion County went from having hit-and-runs in the 4,000s (already an alarming rate) to hit-and-runs in the 7,000s.
- We’d also like to ask you to reflect on the grand total of hit-and-run accidents in Marion County over this 11-year period: well over 60,000. Roughly one third of those (33.18%) happened during the last three years.
Accidents with Injuries
Fortunately, the majority of hit-and-run accidents do not result in serious injury or death. (This is true nationally as well as locally.) In saying that, we must caution that accidents without injury are still not without cost: the toll of property damage can be profound, to say nothing of the emotional distress these accidents cause, or the financial cost to vehicle owners, insurance companies, and state and local law enforcement.
Still, in sounding an alarm, we want to be sure we are focusing the bulk of our concern on the impact these accidents have on people’s bodies, health, wellness, and lives. Accordingly, let’s revisit the previous table, this time looking only at accidents that caused physical injury:
|Year||Total Number of Hit-and-Run Accidents with Injuries in Marion County|
As you can see, the rates of increase generally mirror those we saw earlier, with the number of injuries increasing alongside the total number of hit-and-run accidents in Indianapolis.
A few more observations here:
- From 2014 to 2015, the number of injury-involved hit-and-run accidents in Marion County increased by nearly 116% (very similar to the nearly 117% rate of increase we saw in the total number of hit-and-runs that year).
- From 2015 to 2016, the number of injury-involved hit-and-run accidents in Marion County increased by nearly 129% (even larger than the increase of roughly 126% we saw in the total number of hit-and-runs that year).
- Here again, the numbers fell just slightly for 2017 but were still well above the average they maintained earlier last decade.
Accidents with Deaths
This time, let’s look specifically at fatal hit-and-run accidents in the Indianapolis area:
|Year||Total Number of Fatal Hit-and-Run Accidents in Marion County|
Here again, we see a startling increase over the last few years. Our observations on this data include:
- Prior to 2013, the number of fatal hit-and-run accidents in Marion County had only reached double digits once, and just barely (with 10 fatal accidents in 2011). On the contrary, since 2013, they have not returned to single digits.
- The death rates in 2015 were five times what they were in 2007.
- The grand total of 120 fatal hit-and-run accidents yields an average of just under 11 per year in Marion County alone (that’s nearly one per month).
- Of the 120 fatal hit-and-run accidents that happened in Marion County over this 11-year period, nearly half (45.83%) occurred in the last three years.
Where It’s Happening: The Most Common Sites of Indianapolis Hit-and-Runs
The following table charts the streets and intersections in Marion County where more than 100 hit-and-run accidents have happened since 2007:
|Street||Total Number of Hit-and-Runs|
|E. Washington St.||328|
|W 86th St.||172|
|E 82nd St.||172|
|W. 38th St.||167|
|W. Washington St.||146|
|N. Keystone Ave.||140|
|E 38th St.||120|
|Intersection: 38th St. & Lafayette Rd.||109|
|N Shadeland Ave.||101|
|N. Michigan Rd.||100|
We’ve also put together the following heat map, which shows you the concentration of all hit-and-run accidents throughout Marion County over the last 11 years.
When It’s Happening: Times of Day
The two tables below chart the last decade’s hit-and-run accidents in Marion County, Indiana by time of day. As you can see, there are significant increases during the second half of the business day. We have highlighted the most dangerous time periods in red.
|Time of Day (A.M.)||Number of Hit-and-Run Accidents in Marion County Between 2007 and 2017|
|Midnight – 12:59 a.m.||2,281|
|1:00 a.m. – 1:59 a.m.||1,775|
|2:00 a.m. – 2:59 a.m.||1,525|
|3:00 a.m. – 3:59 a.m.||2,027|
|4:00 a.m. – 4:59 a.m.||1,055|
|5:00 a.m. – 5:59 a.m.||899|
|6:00 a.m. – 6:59 a.m.||1,502|
|7:00 a.m. – 7:59 a.m.||2,339|
|8:00 a.m. – 8:59 a.m.||2,371|
|9:00 a.m. – 9:59 a.m.||1,900|
|10:00 a.m. – 10:59 a.m.||2,051|
|11:00 a.m. – 11:59 a.m.||2,426|
|Time of Day (P.M.)||Number of Hit-and-Run Accidents in Marion County Between 2007 and 2017|
|Noon – 12:59 p.m.||2,873|
|1:00 p.m. – 1:59 p.m.||3,019|
|2:00 p.m. – 2:59 p.m.||3,272|
|3:00 p.m. – 3:59 p.m.||4,085|
|4:00 p.m. – 4:59 p.m.||4,524|
|5:00 p.m. – 5:59 p.m.||4,810|
|6:00 p.m. – 6:59 p.m.||3,905|
|7:00 p.m. – 7:59 p.m.||3,122|
|8:00 p.m. – 8:59 p.m.||2,827|
|9:00 p.m. – 9:59 p.m.||2,730|
|10:00 p.m. – 10:59 p.m.||2,582|
|11:00 p.m. – 11:59 p.m.||2,351|
The safest time of day for hit-and-run accidents in Indianapolis appears to be between 5:00 and 5:59 a.m.
Why It’s Happening
People choose to leave the scene of an accident for all sorts of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for hit-and-run accidents include:
- The driver has unrelated legal problems and does not want to have to deal with the police when they come to investigate the crash.
- There is a warrant for the driver’s arrest.
- The driver is drunk or high.
- The driver does not have a driver’s license.
- The driver does not have current auto insurance.
- The driver is experiencing an emergency.
- Simple fear or panic
But why are hit-and-run accidents increasing so dramatically here in Indianapolis? There may be no easy or one-size-fits-all answer.
Certainly, one imagines that some of the dominant social and legal trends we are seeing in our state might also be factors in hit-and-runs: increased crackdown efforts by federal drug agents, an increase in drug abuse, more prevalent texting and driving, and so on.
Economic factors might be at play too. In tougher economic times, it is typical to see an increase in drivers operating a car without proper insurance. That can, in turn, trigger an increase in hit-and-run accidents, as drivers fear being held criminally and financially responsible for driving without insurance.
We urge all drivers in Indianapolis to remain vigilant on the roads. Should you ever find yourself in an accident, please know that no matter how bad the situation seems, fleeing the scene will only make it worse.
Talk to an Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer at Doehrman Buba
If you or your loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run accident in Indianapolis, please do not assume that you are powerless to recover the financial compensation you deserve, even if you can’t identify the at-fault driver.
An experienced Indianapolis auto accident lawyer at Doehrman Buba can help you understand your rights and the options you might have.
We do not charge our clients a fee unless we are successful in recovering compensation for them. We fight tirelessly to maximize compensation for the people we represent.
To learn more about how we may be able to help in your situation, please contact Doehrman Buba and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.