Damage to parked vehicles, personal injuries, deaths: the proportion of hit-and-runs on Swiss streets has been increasing for years. One reason that experts see for this is fear by those causing an accident of high fines, penalties or imprisonment.
Statements encountered every day in Swiss police reports: deadly hit-and-run accident, accident perpetrator left the scene unallowed, police searching for witnesses…
The proportion of hit-and-run traffic accidents here at home has increased sharply since 2004. This was reported by the newspaper "20 Minutes" referencing the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO):
- 28 percent of those involved in 36,023 accidents without personal injuries fled the scene.
- 6 percent of the drivers causing 18,148 accidents with injuries or deaths committed a hit-and-run.
It is stated crystal clear in Swiss traffic law that all parties involved in an accident must remain on the scene. Those fleeing from the scene of an accident can be punished.
Why are drivers committing hit-and-runs?
Unfortunately, statistics do not exist on the motivations of hit-and-runs in Switzerland. As basic reasons for the increase in hit-and-runs, experts cite fear of stiff penalties, high fines and loss of one's driver's license. Young drivers in particular risk losing their license due to an accident. For many drivers, fleeing is also a panic reaction.
Why is committing a hit-and-run not worth it?
Fees, penalties, imprisonment: those causing a vehicular accident involving injuries or death and fleeing the scene risk penalties ranging from monetary fines to up to three years of prison.
According to the law, a hit-and-run involves only personal injuries and not material damage. Someone causing a ding and running off is guilty of "failing their duty to report". This is punishable with a fine.
It is also considered hit-and-run to initially remain on the scene if involved in an accident but to then leave before the police arrive.
Are passengers also considered perpetrators?
Depending on the circumstances, passengers can also be legally prosecuted as perpetrators.
What are the responsibilities of those involved in an accident?
The police must always be notified in the case of injuries, even if the injured do not want this. Everyone witnessing an accident is obligated to help, whether involved in the accident or not.
Those responsible for material damage must notify the impacted party. The police must be informed if this person is not reachable.
Who pays for damage in the case of hit-and-run?
Drivers with comprehensive car insurance can breathe a partial sigh of relief. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage also if the person responsible is not identified. However, the claimant must still pay the deductible.
Medical treatment for injuries received during a hit-and-run accident are covered by accident insurance.
To provide coverage against material damage, coverage for damage while parked can be added to accident damage insurance. Click here for details.
For remaining damages not covered by any insurance, the Swiss National Guarantee Fund (NGF) jumps in. This is financed through a portion of liability insurance premiums. For this it is required, though, that the police be called to the scene.
Important to know: making a claim to this fund for purely material damages requires a deductible of 1000 francs. This is not the case for "considerable personal injuries" requiring a doctor or hospital visit.
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