Rant: Smash and Dash Drivers

How would you react if someone punched you in the face, looked you in the eyes, and ran away? First, stunned. Second, you’d want to make sure that person is punished for their actions. That’s exactly how I feel about hit-and-run accidents—and I should know.

Two weeks ago—as I sat at a red light on the Colfax Avenue bridge over I-25—a male driver rear-ended my car. I flipped on my hazards, glared into the rearview mirror, made eye contact, and watched the man throw his car in reverse and drive away.

His first mistake was paying too much attention to something other than driving his car. His second mistake was hitting a journalist who always carries a notebook and has a dad in law enforcement who taught her the quick profile checklist: license place, the person’s appearance description, and the car make, model, and color.

My car’s bumper and license plate took all the damage. Some other Denverites in the last couple weeks haven’t been so lucky. Deyondrah Bridgeman, a 16-year-old East High School student, remains in the hospital after she was hit by a car while crossing an intersection near her school. Erin Jackson—a 30-year-old teacher—ran a red light, hit Bridgeman, and bolted. Last weekend, four people were struck by 26-year-old Larry Vo’s car in an early morning accident on Federal Avenue. Vo fled the scene before turning himself in.

In my case, it was an accident. No one was hurt. My car is still drivable. And yet the other driver dashed away without yielding any responsibility to the situation—and that’s not right. The outcome of my crash is still under investigation, but about one in three hit-and-run criminals aren’t ever brought to prosecution. We can’t change other people’s decision-making skills, but you can be prepared if you are a victim.

Know what to do: If you find yourself in this predicament, Denver Police requires you to have at least one of four “solvability factors” for them to open an investigation:

— A complete license plate number of the suspect vehicle.
— A partial license plate number of the suspect vehicle and the make, style, and color of the suspect vehicle.
— You must know the suspect driver is known to the victim or have a witness that does.
— A witness (present or not present) can identify the suspect or provide the license plate number of the suspect vehicle.

Rave: Carpool for Coffee

Denver’s neighbors to the north are getting rewarded for filling up their cars with friends instead of fuel. Boulder County’s Diagonal Shift carpool program is handing out freebie coffees and gift cards to any parties who travel the Diagonal Highway (Highway 119 from Longmont to Boulder) with two people or more in the car.

Carpoolers need to engage in the community commuting at least four times in the month of March and send a photo of your group on each trip. The trips can be for work, lunch, the gym, school, or even the grocery store. Besides coffees from Ziggi’s Coffee House and Brewing Market, one lucky carpool team will win free coffee for an entire month. If we’re all going to the same place, why not make it a social, environmentally savvy, and profitable trip?

The catch? Today (March 8) is the final day to register. Head to Diagonalshift.com and follow the directions.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.