Drivers who hit other vehicles and flee without reporting the damage cause huge inconvenience and expense to their innocent victims, especially if they are taxi drivers who rely on their cars to earn a living.
Damage to any vehicle is expensive to repair and being off the road causes huge disruption because not only are they without their car, if the driver responsible has fled, they also face the prospect of huge repair bills, as well as increased taxi insurance if they make a claim.
No one likes to admit their driving is anything less than perfect so if they hit a parked car with no one around, the temptation might be to drive off and not tell anyone. Unfortunately, according to Hippo Leasing, almost half of drivers (46%) said that is exactly what they would do.
Worryingly, not only are people prepared to do it, Hippo Leasing found that Brits are turning to Google to find out how they can get away with it and what happens if they are caught. The phrases “how many points for hitting a parked car” were searched 140 times per month and “I hit a parked car and didn’t leave a note” 90 times per month.
It is unfair to expect an innocent driver to pay for repairs that weren’t their fault and, apart from doing the right thing, the financial and legal consequences are severe if the fleeing driver is traced. They can face up to 10 points on their licence and an unlimited fine for failing to stop after an accident or failing to report an accident.
Hippo Leasing managing director Tom Preston told Taxi Point: “You could be punished with an unlimited fine and up to 10 penalty points on your licence for failing to stop or report an accident such as hitting a car.
“If you have been involved in an accident and the other driver leaves the scene without giving you their details, you may be able to claim through the Motor Insurance Bureau.”
While it is worrying that 46% of drivers surveyed admitted they would not tell the owner about damage to their vehicle, more than half (54%) said they would own up to bumping or scratching another vehicle, with others saying it depends on the extent of the damage.
However minor a bump or scratch might be, the law is clear about a driver’s responsibilities, as well as the penalties for ignoring them.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, the driver of a vehicle involved in a road traffic accident which causes injury to another person or damage to another vehicle, property or animal must stop at the scene of that accident to exchange details including name and address, insurance and details of the vehicles involved. Failing to do so is an offence, even if it is a minor accident.
It is also worth taking photos of the scene and any damage, as well as noting the position of all vehicles involved and any traffic signs or restrictions.
If anyone has been injured, police and the ambulance should be called. The police should also be called if the accident is blocking the road or if there is a suspicion of foul play, such as insurance fraud or “crash for cash”.
If a parked vehicle has been hit and the owner isn’t around, the driver should leave their details on the windscreen and report the collision to the police within 24 hours. Failing to do so could result in a fine, penalty points or even a driving ban. For people such as taxi drivers who earn their living on the roads, these penalties could lead to taxi insurance premiums increasing and the local authority could even revoke the driver’s taxi licence.
Whether you are at fault or are the victim, you should also contact your insurer and inform them about any collision, even if you do not go ahead with a claim and they will advise you what steps to take next.
Have you been the victim of a hit-and-run?
All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.