Hit and runResearch into why drivers in car accidents ‘hit and run’ has revealed almost 1 in 2 of them are unaware it’s an offence to leave the scene of an accident – and they admit they wouldn’t have done so had they known.

The research, carried out by the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester, also found that 50% of hit and run motorists did not think the accident was serious enough to report: older drivers were more likely to leave the scene of an accident because of this.

For younger motorists, however, the reasons for hitting and running were more likely to be because they were uninsured, had been drinking, were scared of the consequences or simply panicked.

Worryingly, 6% of younger drivers (34 years or under) said nothing would have made them stop and report the accident.

Ashton West OBE, chief executive of MIB – the organisation which compensates innocent motorists involved in hit and run accidents – said there is a real need to understand why there are so many hit and run accidents.

“Until now we have focused on dealing with the problem of driving without insurance. Whilst the level of uninsured driving in the UK has halved in the last 10 years (from 2 million to 1 million), the number of claims reported to the MIB from hit and run incidents has not fallen by anywhere near this amount.”

Senior lecturer at the University of Leicester Dr Matt Hopkins said “as relatively little previous work in relation to hit and run accidents has included any personal engagement with offenders, this research is fairly novel.

“They do begin to highlight some of the reasons why drivers leave the scene of an accident. For a number of drivers, there is clearly confusion about the legal requirement, but importantly, some differences are observed between younger and older drivers that could be developed into preventative strategies.”