You don’t have to do a lot of driving in San Angelo to notice that the motorists are a bit wild on the road.
Indeed, a closer examination of the dents, dings, scratches and gashes on an increasing number of San Angelo vehicles seems telling enough: There are a lot of hits in our small city, and according to San Angelo Police Department Traffic Hit and Run Investigator Steven Quade, the number of those who run is on the steady rise.
Up from around 50 a month in January to right around 90 a month by the end of August, San Angelo has got a traffic problem. And since hit and runs most often occur without any witnesses reporting, there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight.
The good news? Quade says that the incidents are pretty evenly distributed throughout the city, so you’re not really screwed if you tend to stay in one location. He does advise, however that cars parked in lots, apartment complexes and on the side of the street are the most vulnerable to hit-and-run type incidents.
“The best thing to do is, if you’ve got a driveway to park it there,” Quade said. It’s pretty much inevitable that your vehicle will be a victim parked on the street.
“[Apartment complex parking lots] are really difficult,” Quade added, “there usually aren’t any witnesses.”
Last year, there was a total of 817 reported hit and run incidents. So far this year, we’ve had 608, and will likely end up with around 900 if trends continue, Quade warned.
“We’re seeing more and more [serious accidents],” he said. “We have probably about five or six a month where it totally wrecks the vehicle.”
Even accidents involving persons are up, Quade said, “We’ve had four pedestrians hit downtown and hurt pretty badly [this year].” The majority of these occur on Friday and Saturday nights and can be attributed to the growing traffic that downtown sees on weekends as the area develops its nightlife.
To combat the growing number of hit and runs involving pedestrians, state laws and penalties have been slightly changed recently to discourage leaving the scene of the crime.
“The only thing that has changed is that a hit and run used to be a third-degree felony,” Quade said, “People would leave the scene because they got in less trouble.”
Now, the law has changed so that the penalty is the same whether you run or not.
Should you witness a hit and run or any suspicious activity, call the San Angelo Crime Stoppers or the SAPD Traffic Division.