The Psychology behind Hit-and-Runs
Car accidents, whether someone is injured by a drunk driver or involved in a hit-and-run, are gruesome, tragic, and highly emotional incidents that elicit strong emotional responses from a majority of individuals regardless of personal involvement. With the physical trauma and financial hardships inflicted upon victims of car accident, it is not surprising that it is difficult to sympathize with the individuals who flee from the scene. Still, it is imperative that one is conscious of the underlying psychological influences that contribute to the actions of hit-and-run assailants. Perhaps this knowledge may prevent someone from thinking in the same patterns that elicit the action of bolting.
It seems reasonable that an individual would want to avoid financial and legal penalties, thus fleeing from an accident appears sane albeit insensitive. Still, the majority of population classifies hit-and-runners as psychotic individuals who lack a moral code and a decent upbringing. Unfortunately, this image does not capture the complex emotional and cognitive processes that an assailant feels during a hit-and-run.
The fight-or-flight is a physiological response to a threatening situation. The individual is preparing to either run away or deal with the issue at hand. In a split-second following an accident, confusion, fear, guilt, and other emotions flood the perpetuator. In that instance, he or she can either run or deal with the consequences. If an individual lacks self-control, then they may yield to their emotions. Rather than address the situation in a rational and responsible way, they may engage in the impulsive act of fleeing. Several factors contribute to this diminished self-control, but the strongest influencer is alcohol and drugs. These substances increase emotional response and weaken rational decision-making. Indeed, drunk driving is often involved in most hit-and-run accidents. In order to prevent falling victim to emotions, the individuals must take a breath and think rationally about the consequences of running away. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to think logically in the heat of the moment.