Resident tips important piece in solving hit-and-run crimes

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 11:59 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - According to the Savannah Police Department’s data, there have been 56 deadly hit-and-run cases in city limits since 2020.

That number grows when you consider serious injuries, with 149 people seriously injured by hit-and-runs in Savannah since 2020.

Deterrence is a big part of SPD’s approach to the issue, since it can take a long time to figure out who’s responsible when someone runs from a crash scene.

When a hit-and-run occurs, the police department sends out their Traffic Investigation Unit. Assistant Chief Robert Gavin says they look at forensic measurements, collect evidence like debris and look at the position of victims’ bodies like in a homicide.

“They do an extensive piece. Not only the forensic measurements, collecting evidence, debris,” Asst. Chief Gavin said.

Sometimes, all that evidence doesn’t paint the full picture. Gavin says oftentimes, they need tips from people who see something unusual.

“There’s damage to vehicles that has to be fixed. There are people that wake up the next morning and realize that their neighbors’ car has been damaged,” Gavin said.

It sometimes can take a while, even months, to put the pieces together.

Gavin says that sometimes the accident isn’t even the driver’s fault, but leaving will always make a bad problem worse.

“What we need to do is think about the person that may be injured, the damage that’s done, and really make sure someone’s okay. Because if someone ends up dying because you left them there and no one knows if the accident happened and that person could’ve lived, that’s a lot worse,” Gavin said.

The number one thing is paying attention while you’re driving, and while that might seem like an obvious answer, all the distractions we have while driving these days make it harder.

Gavin says that because Savannah is a pedestrian-heavy city, drivers and people walking alike need to pay extra attention. That includes not looking down at your phone while you’re driving or crossing the street.

Pedestrians should always cross at crosswalks and drivers need to watch their speed.

To make this happen, Savannah’s leadership is working on programs meant to reduce the number of hit and runs, and traffic fatalities overall.

Because Savannah is a large tourist area and has a lot of people walking downtown, Gavin says the city and police department puts a special emphasis on tactics to prevent hit and runs from happening.

“The City has been working through our Vision Zero program, working with traffic engineering, not just police but other entities to start making pedestrians and people that are driving in these congested areas safer. And we really want to reduce that number to zero,” Gavin said.