In Houston on Monday, July 9, a man driving an SUV on Fuqua crossed the median and crashed into a vehicle driven by an eight-months-pregnant woman. The man drove off after the crash. After being rushed to the hospital and undergoing an emergency C-section, her baby tragically died.
The SUV-driver remains at large. This is the latest in an all-too-frequent series of hit-and-run crashes that are plaguing the Houston area. In recent years, the legislature has increased penalties for leaving the scene of a collision in order to disincentivize the practice. Because drunk drivers might leave the scene in order to avoid punishment, hit-and-run resulting in an injury now carries the same penalty as intoxication assault, and hit-and-run resulting in death carries the same penalty as intoxication manslaughter, including up to 20 years in prison.
Even with the increased penalties, hit-and-run offenses have been on the rise nationally, and Houston’s hit-and-run numbers exceed the national average. In 2013, 14% of all accidents involved hit-and-run drivers, and hit-and-run drivers accounted for a fifth of all pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrians and bicyclists are frequently victims.