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More motorists are leaving traffic accidents without exchanging insurance information with the other driver or waiting for police.
In the first six months of this year, Columbus police responded to 170 accidents in which one driver had left the scene.
If the trend continues, police will have received at least 12 more leaving-the-scene reports this year than last year and at least 28 more than in 2010, according to police records.
Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix said he thinks more people are taking off because they are not insured or don’t have a driver’s license.
Motorists who are ditched by other drivers face paying for repairs to their vehicles on their own.
State law does not require insurance companies to respond to claims of property damage from hit-and-run accidents in which the other vehicle’s owner or driver cannot be identified, said Logan Harrison, chief deputy commissioner for health, public and legislative affairs for the Indiana Department of Insurance.
He said vehicle owners can purchase collision coverage as part of their auto insurance, which does protect motorists involved in hit-and-run accidents. The coverage pays for repairs or vehicle replacement.
But it usually requires an additional cost, which might turn some vehicle owners away, Harrison said. Some motorists decide not to add the coverage to keep their monthly premiums low.
“It’s your own economical cost-benefit analysis,” Harrison said.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, and police do catch some of the motorists suspected in hit-and-runs.
So far this year, the police department has arrested 21 hit-and-run suspects. They arrested 47 in 2011 and 31 in 2010.
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