What causes someone to leave the scene of an automobile accident, where another person might have been harmed?
Fleeing an accident is not uncommon, but there is little date on the behavior.
In the state of Maryland; there are an average of 24 deaths due to hit-and-run drivers and nationwide its about 1,600 deaths. The accidents involved striking someone on foot, riding a bicycle on in another car.
Psychologists and those who study human behavior say the drivers likely experience a flood of emotions including dear, shame and guilt. These emotions overwhelm their sense of self-control and so they flee an accident scene without making their identities known. There are some who are also under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Alcohol is a factor in about 30 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide.
An elevated Blood alcohol level can hinder the rational decision making process and clearly makes it more difficult for someone to make a good decision. Carlo DiClemente, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County says "Fear and escape motivations kick in and, without good executive functioning, make flight more probable."
A person's upbringing and culture can also affect the reaction of a person. If while growing up, a person has been recognized for good behavior and telling the truth, it generally means they will own up to their mistakes, where, those that were always punished or physically injured for their behavior would be less likely to take responsibility for their actions/mistake.
The majority of hit-and-run accidents occur on weekends, when people are walking out more, and at night, when it's harder to see, therefore; drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all need to be more aware of others on the road and need to make sure they can be seen. Reflective gear for walkers and cyclists are important, as well as not drinking or using cellphones for those behind the wheel.
In most states, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent. In 2014, 12 states and the District of Columbia banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, and 41 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. Maryland has enacted both bans.
There was a study conducted by psychologists, Frank Farley, in Temple University that categorized three different types of personalities for those who would leave the scene of a car crash.
1) The risk taker - self-confident and energetic and someone who feels in control of their fate. This person tends to drink more and is therefore more likely to get into an accident. This type of person would rather take the risk of fleeing than face the consequences of staying.
2) Little impulse control. Fear, adrenaline and "fight or flight" instincts kick in and they act before they think. This type of person may, however, return to the scene once they start thinking clearly.
3) "Guilty Knowledge". This type of person know they are doing something wrong, such as drinking, driving without a license or are with someone they aren't suppose to be with. This persona may also be someone in a leadership position, such as a police officer or political.