Hit-and-Run Suspect Turns Himself In

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According to authorities, 24-year-old Farlando Smith, the suspect believed to be responsible for a fatal hit-and-run that killed 19-year-old Javier Benjamin Gonzalez, has turned himself in. It’s believed that Gonzalez was having car trouble and had pulled over to the side of the road. A third driver had pulled over and was helping Gonzalez when Gonzalez was hit.

According to police, Smith fled the scene following the accident and was believed to have been hiding in the Navajo Reservation.

DPS had served a warrant at Smith’s Phoenix residence and seized his vehicle prior to Smith turning himself in. He has been booked into the Navajo County Jail on charges of leaving the scene of a hit-and-run in a fatal collision.

Increases in Hit-and-Run Accidents

According to an analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about one in five of all pedestrian fatalities are hit-and-runs, and 60% of hit-and-run fatalities have pedestrians as victims. “Alcohol is a major, major part of the problem, from the driver’s perspective, especially. The main thing we can do as a society to sort of combat this problem is to simply be more alert as pedestrians,” says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the foundation.

“People find themselves in these situations, and what do you do?” asks Sara Solnick, chairwoman of the Department of Economics at the University of Vermont. She has closely studied hit-and-run crashes. “Drivers are more likely to run if they feel there is a reason to do so. They’re more likely to have high blood-alcohol content, or they’re driving without a license, or they’re very young drivers.”

But while all this data might explain what’s happening, it still does not solve the problem. That’s why in 2012, Arizona enacted stronger laws regarding hit-and-run accidents. Any driver who leaves the scene of a crash resulting in serious injury automatically will have their license suspended for five years. And if the accident results in death, the automatic suspension is 10 years, not including time in jail.

While tough laws have been put in place, hit-and-run accidents will still take place. That’s why you need to know how to protect yourself - through either avoiding an accident, or following an accident.

Avoiding Accidents

Just because accidents involving bicycles, pedestrians, trucks, and cars happen every day, and seem as if they are a part of every day life, that doesn’t meant that they cannot be avoided or prevented. There are precautions you can take to keep you and your family safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pedestrian death occurs every 2 hours.  Accidents resulting in pedestrian-related injury occurs every 8 minutes. There are things we can do as a driving society to help reduce these numbers. Staying safe is a matter of paying attention and being aware of your surroundings, while also taking necessary precautions.

You Might Not Have the Right-of-Way

We grow up believing that pedestrians always have the right of way. But that’s not true. Under Arizona law, pedestrians only have the right-of-way when they walk within marked crosswalks. There are some exceptions made for unmarked crosswalks because they have a separate set of laws, but right-of-way is not given to pedestrians when they cross at any place other than a crosswalk. That means if you jaywalk, you are not protected by the idea that “pedestrians always have the right of way.”

Arizona Law

According to Arizona law, pedestrians have an obligation to never, “suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield” (A.R.S. § 28-792).

Be a Good Pedestrian

Here’s how to stay safe and be a good pedestrian:

  • Be cautious.
  • Be alert when crossing streets at busy intersections.
  • Increase your visibility by wearing bright reflective clothing.
  • If you are walking at night, carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing that will catch car headlights.
  • If there are no sidewalks where you are walking, walk facing traffic. Cars will see you and you will be able to see the cars.
  • Teach your children to look in both directions before crossing streets.
  • If possible, only cross at designated crosswalks.
  • Don’t assume that just because you are in a crosswalk that you are safe. Being in a crosswalk does not automatically mean that cars can see you.
  • Make sure you can hear the road and everything on the road, including cars approaching from behind.

Be a Good Driver

Safety is not just up to pedestrians being aware of cars, but cars need to be completely aware of pedestrians and all other cars on the road. Here are some ways to ensure that you are a good and safe driver:

  • Be cautious
  • Remain alert when approaching streets or busy intersections.
  • Make sure you are aware of any pedestrians that might be entering the road or on the road (running or bicyclists).
  • If you are driving at night, make sure all of your headlights and tail-lights are working, and that you are clearly visible.
  • Make sure your car is properly maintained. This includes frequent maintenance including light checks, engine checks, and brake checks.
  • Pay special attention when entering or exiting parking lots. When you exit a parking lot you typically pass through a sidewalk that potentially has pedestrians walking on it.
  • Follow and adhere to posted speed limits.
  • Avoid distractions including texting, phone calls, or reaching for things that have fallen.

What you Need to Do to Be a Good Bicyclist

Being a good bicyclist means you follow these rules:

  • Be cautious
  • Remain alert when approaching streets or busy intersections.
  • Make sure you are aware of any pedestrians or vehicles that might be on the road.
  • Always ride in the designated bike lane if there is one. This means ride within in, not on the dividing line.
  • If you are riding at night, make sure you are wearing reflective gear, or that your bike is equipped with reflective gear, and that you are clearly visible.
  • Use the correct hand signals when making turns or moving into traffic.
  • Make sure your bike is properly maintained. This includes frequent brake checks.
  • Pay special attention when entering or exiting parking lots, as often you will need to cross a sidewalk to enter. This can mean hitting a pedestrian, or exiting or entering cars.
  • Avoid distractions including texting, phone calls.
  • Make sure you can hear the road and everything on the road, including cars approaching from behind.

Protecting Yourself After an Accident

If you have been involved in an automobile accident, you should immediately call a personal injury attorney that can help you build your case. They have the experience necessary to ensure you are able to prove your injuries so that you can collect the compensation you are owed.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney After an Accident

If you have been a victim in a car, truck, pedestrian, or bicycle accident, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney like the ones at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC. They have experience handling personal injury cases such as car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents and will help build a case to ensure you receive everything you need to recover from your specific accident.

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