Crime & Justice

Billboards remind drivers what to do when they witness a hit-and-run

Los Angeles sees more than 20,000 hit-and-run accidents every year, according to the LAPD.
Los Angeles sees more than 20,000 hit-and-run accidents every year, according to the LAPD.
K.G.Hawes/Creative Commons/Flickr

Just in time for trick-or-treating season, the Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday launched 13 billboards throughout the city in an effort to prevent hit-and-run accidents.

“We are in the midst of an epidemic with over 20,000 hit-and-run crimes occurring each year in the city of Los Angeles,” Councilmember Mitchell Englander, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said in a press conference announcing the campaign.

“By taking messages about traffic safety direct to residents, we can broadcast important safety messages and important information which could be critical to solving these crimes," Englander said.

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(Photo: Clear Channel Outdoor)

Distraction from cellphone use while driving has made the problem worse, LAPD Officer Jack Richter told KPCC.

“We have a lot of families that are left without closure,” said Richter. “The hit-and-runs here in Los Angeles, they're quite serious.”

In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows the use of the Amber Alert system to broadcast suspected hit-and-run drivers after vetoing a similar bill in 2014. Brown had expressed concern about weakening the power of Amber Alerts. Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale said that since highway signs were being used to urge drivers to save water, there should be room to inform them about hit-and-runs as well.

For the campaign, the ad company Clear Channel Outdoor donated billboard space throughout the city. The boards feature messages in English, Spanish and Korean.