State legislators announced this week a new system to combat drivers leaving the scene of a crash prematurely, amid “the grips of a hit-and-run epidemic” in California, according to Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles.
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Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies deal with about eight hit-and-run reports every week, on average, according to statistics provided by station officials.
In response to this statewide problem, Gatto authored Assembly Bill 47 to combat hit and runs, which would would create a “Yellow Alert” system that, similar to Amber Alerts, could use existing digital road signs to announce information about hit-and-run suspects to the public and law enforcement officials.
Santa Clarita Valley’s hit-and-run numbers remained fairly constant for the last two years, with 215 hit-and-run collisions and 20 injuries being reported from Jan. 1 to July 15 of 2013, and the same number of collisions with 23 injuries for the same period this year.
Those who have been injured or who have relatives who’ve been killed in hit-and-run crashes spoke out in support of the effort this week, as did Los Angeles city officials.
“This is one of the most cowardly types of crimes you can commit,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander said. “It’s not an accident … you made a conscious decision to flee and that’s a crime.”
Last year, Los Angeles had 20,000 hit-and-run crashes, making up about 48 percent of the city’s total number of reported crashes.
Gatto’s idea is similar to the Medina Alert system implemented earlier this year in Colorado, according to a Bay area NBC news report.
Named after Jose Medina, a 21-year-old Denver valet worker who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2011, the system broadcasts vehicle or driver information to the public using electronic signs.
A second piece of legislation, AB 1532, increases the penalty for a hit-and-run crash to include the automatic suspension of the driver’s license for six months, a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Both pieces of legislation are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on Appropriations in August.
The LAPD has since been charged with looking at the feasibility of using already existing tools, like community notification service Nixle, to alert the public about hit-and-run drivers.
To sign up for a Nixle report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, click here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News