ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions and shares tips about the rules of the road, helping Central Florida residents become better drivers by being better educated.
The most recent question Trooper Steve addressed was, “There have been so many hit-and-run crashes lately. What do I do if I become a victim of a hit-and-run?”
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“If you find yourself involved in a crash where a driver has either fled the scene or is fleeing the scene, you might need to take action quickly,” Trooper Steve said. “First, obviously, contact authorities. Try to remain calm and remember the simple details, including the direction of travel of the vehicle, color of the car and the description of the driver. Also, after exiting your vehicle safely, try to find if there are any other witnesses of your crash. That could be the only thing you have to locating the fleeing driver.”
Central Florida is a hot zone for hit-and-run crashes. In 2020, they were eight fatal hit-and-run crashes in Orange County. A year later, there have been 21 fatal hit-and-run crashes in Orange County.
“Always remember to stay at the scene, whether you’re at fault or not. The moment you leave the scene of a crash, you turn something that is possibly an accident into criminal behavior,” he said. “Here in the state of Florida, leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash comes with a four-year minimum mandatory sentence.”
Trooper Steve also addressed what to do the opportunity presents itself to interact with another driver.
“What I’m about to say is not meant to come across as aggressive or rude but rather designed to benefit everyone if they are involved in some type of crash,” Trooper Steve said. “Never trust anyone at a crash scene during the initial portion of the wreck. What I mean by that is this: You are responsible for documenting everything as quickly and safely as you can.”
Certainly, if injuries were involved in the crash, there would be medical situations to deal with.
“What I mean is that you should document what you can about the crash as quickly as you can,” he said. “In today’s society, I have never seen a mobile phone without a camera. Take pictures right away. When taking photos, make sure you capture license plates, damages to all the vehicles, street signs, the intersection where the crash occurred and even the other people involved.”
If you choose to exchange information with others, simply take pictures of their insurance information, vehicle registration and driver’s license, he added.
“There is no reason for this information to be written down, and the picture is going to be much more credible moving forward,” Trooper Steve said. “Also this may sound crazy, but never hand your phone over to the other party involved in the crash.”
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Trooper Steve said he knows of instances in which other drivers have deleted data from the other driver’s phone.