In one sense, this is a bit of good news about Los Angeles and its car-heavy transportation culture: More than half of the time people are involved in car accidents, they actually stick around and take responsibility for it. Slightly more than half.
From LA Weekly:
About 20,000 hit-and-run crashes, from fender benders to multiple fatalities, are recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department each year.
That’s huge, even in a city of 3.8 million people. In the United States, 11 percent of vehicle collisions are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly has learned, an incredible 48 percent of crashes were hit-and-runs in 2009, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available. According to data collected by the state, some 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff, resulted in injury and/or death. Of those, according to a federal study, about 100 pedestrians died; the number of motorists and bicyclists who die would push that toll even higher.
In other words, Los Angeles drivers are four-and-a-half times more likely to bail after an accident than the country on the whole.
LA Weekly credits a perhaps-predictable source for the data.
In fact, it appears that the best data on the massive scope of L.A. felony hit-and-runs — “felony” generally meaning somebody was seriously injured or killed — were dug up not by city leaders or law enforcement but by well-known bicycling advocate Alex Thompson, founder of the now-defunct website Bikeside L.A.
According to the blog Biking in LA, 24 riders were killed in traffic-related accidents in Los Angeles County in 2011 — 71 in Southern California. While the figure for LA is relatively consistent, it’s growing in the surrounding area.
It’s a staggering picture of a decade of injury. And according to LA Weekly, a massive percentage of the people responsible for those accidents may have suffered no consequence at all for doing so.