Lawrence auto accident data
A look at the frequency, locations and other factors involved in wrecks in Lawrence.
When she arrived at the gym’s parking lot, Hilary Robinson faced with the daunting task of pulling her large van into a tiny parking stall. It would have been difficult for anyone, but Robinson was a new driver, only 17.
As she pulled forward, she felt the telltale bump of her vehicle hitting a car parked next to her.
It was then that the internal struggle began: Stay or drive away?
Robinson chose to do what a majority of Lawrence residents in similar situations do not: She left a note with her contact information under the car’s windshield wiper.
“When she called me back an hour later she basically laughed at me,” Robinson said of the other car’s driver. “It was only a tiny scratch that scraped off a bunch of her bumper sticker.”
According to a Journal-World analysis of Lawrence Police Department records, hit-and-run accidents were more than a quarter of all accidents that occurred in the city during the past year — about 800 separate incidents. Of the more than 360 accidents that occurred in parking lots, 59 percent of them were hit-and-run.
Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Cory said that with every accident — even minor fender benders — the law requires individuals to call police to file a report. If the accident involves an unattended vehicle, he said it was also necessary to leave a note with your name, address and vehicle registration number.
Failure to comply with that law, Cory said, could result in a citation for leaving the scene of an accident, which is a traffic misdemeanor similar to driving under the influence.
Though DUIs and operating under the influence carry harsher fines, a citation for leaving the scene of an accident still has the potential to land the offending driver in jail if injuries occur.
“What’s more serious, somebody driving impaired possibly to kill a bunch of people, or leaving the scene of an accident where there are serious injuries?” Cory said. “I don’t know. That’s a societal issue, but they’re both misdemeanors.”
During the past year, drivers responsible for hit-and-run accidents were apprehended only one out of every four times.
At the time of her accident, Robinson said she wasn’t sure what to do and had to call her dad for advice. Eventually she decided it was better to be safe and leave the note.
“I knew if someone ever scratched my car or anything, even if it was a small one, it would be nice to have an apology,” she said.