At the end of July, the Oak Hill Gazette published an article in which several motorists were recognized for their role in helping police to catch a hit-and-run driver. Speaking to the South Austin Quarterly Police Commander's Forum, Commander Todd Gage commended the efforts of the motorists and reiterated to the forum that "citizen Involvement is key to what we do."
The partnership between citizens and police is important as individuals who see hit-and-run accidents on the road can report information to police officers to help them identify motorists who leave the scene of a crash. Citizens can also help police in other ways by keeping an eye out for dangerous drivers or criminal activity and reporting what they see. Our Austin car accident lawyers know that at a time when traffic fatalities are at an all-time high in Austin, this type of partnership could help to make the streets safer.
Citizens Help to Stop Hit-and-Run Drivers
The motorists recognized at the South Austin Quarterly Police Commander's Forum observed a hit-and-run accident in which an off-duty firefighter was riding his bike in a bike lane and was run over by a truck. Five people followed and stayed with the truck driver until police officers were able to get to the scene and apprehend the motorist who had tried to flee.
The firefighter is in grave condition after the accident, and because of the citizens who took the initiative to follow the responsible driver, the driver blamed for the crash can be held accountable.
While not every citizen will want to be involved and follow a hit-and-run driver, everyone can do their part by helping to report accidents or alert police to drivers on the road who they believe may be intoxicated or engaged in dangerous behavior.
When people become involved, it helps police to do their jobs, which is why the Quarterly Police Commander's Forum begins with Citizen Recognition and Appreciation. Active involvement by community members in keeping the community safe could be especially helpful in trying to reduce the record number of auto accidents that are occurring.
As the Oak Hill Gazette indicated, there were 82 traffic deaths in Austin last year and the current accident statistics suggest that there are likely to be even more deaths this year. In fact, there were five traffic deaths in just one weekend in July shortly before the Quarterly Police Commander's Forum was held.
Because of the high number of deaths, additional officers are hopefully going to be tasked to the traffic unit to improve officer presence and response time. However, the funding for these additional traffic officers has not yet been approved in the proposed budget, so it is unclear whether the necessary increase in police will be approved.
Whether it does go through and more police are on the street, there will always be more concerned citizens around than police officers and these citizens can do their part to help make hit-and-run investigations easier and to report dangerous drivers and make the roads safer.
If you or a loved one was hurt in an Austin car accident, contact Bertolino LLP today at 512-717-5432 for a case consultation.