More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In 2016, here in Illinois, there were 69 hit-and-run crashes that involved at least one fatality; in Indiana in 2016, there were 45.

When it comes to hit-and-run, these crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016 - the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009. With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to be alert on the road in order to avoid a deadly crash and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.

Some of AAA's other findings:

  • An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
  • Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.
  • Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.
  • Per capita, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rates.

“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago. “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers- whether they caused the crash or not.”

If you find yourself involved in a crash, there's one sure way to prevent it from becoming a hit-and-run: stay on the scene of the accident. Sure, that seems like a given, but looking at the numbers, it would appear that bit of advice is being ignored. Also:

  • Check for injured people and call 9-1-1
  • Make sure you're visible. Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.
  • Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.

As the weather gets nicer, more motorcycles, bicycles, and walking pedestrians will be out and about, so please be careful out there not to become a warning statistic. It's already happening here in Rockford.

Rockford Police are searching for the person who hit a bicyclist and drove off.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. on Tuesday on the 11th Street frontage road, across from Rockford Toolcraft.

Paramedics arrived to find a 41-year-old man in the street. He was transported to a local hospital and is in critical condition. His name has not been released.

Witnesses say a car hit the man and left the scene.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Rockford Police at 815-966-2900.

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