With hit-and-run accidents on the rise, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) has rolled out a new alert system to help law enforcement catch more offenders.

The program is a cooperative effort among state, local, and tribal police agencies, along with the Washington State Department of Transportation to increase the chances of identifying and recovering vehicles that flee after being involved in injury or fatality traffic collisions.

"Last year alone we had 305 hit-and-run situations in our state where serious injuries or deaths occurred, and well over 4,000 total hit-and-runs," says WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis. "These are crimes that are often very hard to solve and the perpetrators are very hard to apprehend because their fleeing is the crime itself."

The new system calls for alerts to be generated when a hit-and-run collision resulting in serious injury or death occurs and enough descriptive information is available to assist in potentially locating the suspect vehicle.

Alerts will be sent out through the media and social media, as well as on roadside electronic messaging sings.

Loftis says his agency is urging the public to help in reducing the number of hit-and-run accidents by remembering one critical rule of the road.

"The biggest thing is to be accountable. When we get behind the wheel and a bad thing happens, don't make it worse by running from it. Don't turn a misdemeanor or a small fine into a felony that puts you in prison."

The state's new Hit-and-Run Alert System went live on Monday (August 1) and Loftis is expecting it to pay early dividends in the weeks ahead.

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