Back to Interview Answers || Back to DrDriving  ||  List of Interviews

Interview with Leon James

Gill Gross Show   Hit & Run Psychology  October 12, 2007

ABC KGO TV/DT San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose.

What happens to the driver:

Some drivers who hit someone or something are under sudden emotional pressure that they don't know how to handle.

Their thinking becomes deranged by the emotional impact when they realize they may have just killed someone.

Running away and leaving the accident scene is their inadequate way of coping with the overwhelming emotions they are experiencing uncontrollably.

This is why all drivers need to prepare themselves for such a situation by mentally rehearsing in advance what they would do if they hit someone on the road or in a parking lot. They also need to discuss with various others what they need to do under such stressful conditions. Part of being a good driver is to have emergency procedures in place in your mind so you can act on them when you are emotionally impaired or stressed.

Reasons drivers have for leaving the crash scene:

1.  Driver has something to hide and does not want to be questioned by police. For instance they may have an expired or revoked license, or no license. Or they may want to protect their identity or avoid publicity.

2. Driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. In some localities drunk driving convictions carry heavier sentences than leaving the scene of a crash, or not stopping to offer help.

3. Driver is scared to stop on the highway if it is at night or in a strange neighborhood. So the driver may opt to use the cell phone to call police without stopping.

4. Driver may be functioning at a low level of moral reasoning and social responsibility and is able to justify running away and not facing the consequences because "it's not really their fault" or, "Someone else will stop and help."

Statistics and Facts:

According to, an advocacy Web site dedicated to the victims of leaving the scene crashes:

4 people die every day in a hit & run crash

nearly 100,000 people are injured every year in a hit & run crash

4 percent of all deadly crashes involve drivers leaving the scene (8 percent in California)

In the People's Republic of China drivers convicted of leaving the scene of an accident are punished by the lifetime revocation of their driver's license.

Victims and their families are worse off psychologically because they have no identity to confront and hold responsible for the loss of their loved one. It puts block on their grieving process. They can't let go of it or come to terms with the meaning of the event.

See this news story: More drivers fear the consequences of stopping to help victims of crashes

Google Results for Hit & Run Driver Psychology:

Hit and Run Drivers - Government Articles at

How many times have we seen young children and the elderly being mown down or victims of accidents where hit and run drivers have been involved. ... - 12k -

But oftentimes hit-and-run drivers can't keep the sense of guilt to themselves and end up ... College of the Redwoods-Del Norte psychology professor. ... - 22k -

FHP - Why are hit-run drivers fleeing?

But once hit-and-run drivers are caught, ticketed and sent to a safety class, ... Dr. Judi Addelston, who teaches psychology at Valencia Community College, ... - 17k -

the DC sidewalk blog: The hit-and-run and human nature

This might be one for the psychology journals. ... Walker, DC Ranger: Aggressive drivers transgress my wires, Washington DC pedestrian ire. ... - 69k -

Science Links Japan | Collisions between Drivers and Pedestrians ...

Abstract;This report addresses hit-and-run accidents, a topic that has received little attention in traffic psychology research to date, ... - 7k -

San Francisco Examiner: When good drivers go bad

said Sgt. Bosch, also of the Hit and Run division. ``What about the road rage of bicycle drivers? I can't tell you how many cases I've seen of pedestrians ... - 14k -


The Plain Dealer Newspaper, Cleveland, OHIO Interview with reporter John Caniglia for a story on the psychology of hit-and-run drivers and its implications ... - 155k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Workshop on Driving Psychology

A hit-and-run "gone terribly wrong" was how sheriff's officials described a fender-bender between two pickup truck drivers that ended in a shootout Thursday ... - 138k -

Understanding Abnormal Psychology - Google Books Result

by Neil Frude - 1998 - Psychology - 384 pages
... thoughts of having hit a pedestrian while driving (of being an unwitting 'hit and run' driver). The following are examples of compulsive actions: ... - Note this

New Mexico & Nationwide Traffic Violation News Moving Traffic ...

There are elements of driver psychology and sociology behind the ... Hit and Run Definition: Crashes where the vehicle, or the driver of the vehicle, ... - 27k

Forgive for Good - Google Books Result

by Frederic Luskin - 2003 - Self-Help - 240 pages
It is justified to expect a hit- and-run driver to spend time in jail. ... What does not help you is holding that hit-and-run driver responsible for your ...

The Psychology of Sympathy - Google Books Result

by Lauren Wispé - 1991 - Psychology
Sentences like the following were used: “Your car is struck by a hit-and-run driver” (anger), or “You inherit a million dollars” (happiness). ...

Accident Risk Modified by Passengers

All non-car accidents, accidents with less then 3000 DM damage, hit and run drivers and cases with missing values on any of the exposure variables were ... - 34k -

Back to Interview Answers || Back to DrDriving Home  ||  List of Interviews