Nobody walks in L.A., we've been told. But this new statistic might make you think twice about driving there: 48 percent of crashes in Los Angeles in 2009 were hit and runs, L.A. Weekly reports. "[I]n Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly has learned, an incredible 48 percent of crashes were hit-and-runs in 2009, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available," writes Simone Wilson. That's the eye-popping stat in her investigation, which takes a look at the hit-and-run epidemic and its repercussions, including that some victims of hit and runs are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to cover medical bills because the other person didn't stop. To give you an idea of how sad this 48 percent is, the national hit-and-run average hovers around 11 percent, according to AAA's study in 2011. And California stands at around an average of 18 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
There is, of course, a human element to what this new information means, aside from medical bills or the frustration of having to take your car to the body shop. Wilson writes:
According to data collected by the state, some 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff, resulted in injury and/or death. Of those, according to a federal study, about 100 pedestrians died; the number of motorists and bicyclists who die would push that toll even higher.
As if that wasn't scary enough, the LAPD declined to even talk to Wilson at length about the issue or the statistics LA Weekly uncovered. According to Wilson, they repeatedly delayed handing her the information, and when they did give her data it was riddled with incomplete files and obscure information when it came to the arrests being made—meaning either police aren't really the best when it comes to working with the media, or the LAPD isn't really doing a great job when it comes to hit and runs (or some combination therein). When LA Weekly did find someone to ask about these hit and runs, the answer didn't really turn out to be what you want to hear:
Commander Andrew Smith, Beck's head of communications, said, "Of course it's something we're concerned with." But overall, he says, "crimes against a person," such as homicides and sexual assaults, are a higher priority.
Keep that in mind next time you're not walking through L.A.
This post originally appeared on The Altantic Wire.