Vias: ‘Hit-and-run accidents reach record level in ten years’

Last year, more than 4 700 serious or fatal accidents ended with a hit-and-run. A record number in ten years. According to the Belgian traffic safety institute Vias, most victims were cyclists (21%) and pedestrians ‘14%). Fortunately, the vast majority of perpetrators were identified.

Vias pleads to step up the fight against drunk driving and uninsured driving. “This way, we also tackle the risk of a hit-and-run.” The Federal Minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), on the other hand, is in favor of a more drastic measure. Het wants to immobilize the perpetrators’ cars.

Of the 37 306 accidents with physical injuries registered last year, 12,6% (4 708 to be precise) involved hit-and-run. Especially in Brussels, the phenomenon is growing – 16% of accidents with injuries or death were followed by a hit-and-run, compared to 12% in Flanders and 10% in Wallonia. The numbers are particularly worrying because the number of accidents has generally decreased compared to 2013.

Violating traffic rules

A positive element in this gloomy situation is that nowadays, the vast majority (85%) of perpetrators are identified, compared to ‘only’ 76% in 2013 thanks to the presence of cameras.

The majority of perpetrators play down the seriousness of the accident and deny having violated the traffic rules. Most of them want to avoid the costs of the accident; others drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and try to escape the fines (13%).

Lifelong driving ban

“But the punishment for a hit-and-run is always heavier than the punishment for the initial offense from which people often flee,” warns Stef Willems, spokesperson for Vias. Anyone who commits a hit-and-run after an accident with injury or death risks a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine, and a lifelong driving ban.”

Confiscation of the perpetrator’s vehicle

Federal Mobility Minister Gilkinet says he’s preparing a text, expanding the cases in which justice can immobilize a vehicle. In concrete terms, the judicial police officer present on the scene could order the temporary confiscation of the vehicle when the perpetrator of a hit-and-run is identified. And the confiscation could last as long as the temporary withdrawal of the permit (two weeks, and extendable twice three months).

Gilkinet’s proposal will be examined in the coming weeks with a passage in a first reading in the government before the holidays and an entry into force in 2024.


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