That says police scientist Jaap Timmer. “Driving away from the scene of a traffic accident is a criminal offense. First of all, you must reveal your identity if you are involved in a traffic accident. Second, you must not leave someone in a helpless state after an accident.”
Fine and imprisonment
Apart from whether someone is at fault in a road accident and may be (severely) punished for it, they can also be prosecuted for driving away after the accident. This concerns a fine of up to EUR 8,100 or a prison sentence of up to three months. The driving license can also be taken for a maximum of five years.
Criminal prosecution can be prevented by voluntarily reporting to the police. You must do this within twelve hours after the traffic accident, Melissa Slaghekke of Cleerdin & Hamer Advocaten explained in an earlier article. Reporting must also be completely voluntary. If you have left the victim in a helpless state, this ‘ground for prosecution exclusion’ does not apply.
“Can you live with this?”
In the case of the fatal crash in Zuiderwoude, the driver has still not reported days after the accident. Not even after the day before yesterday, when the mother of the crashed Tamar made an emotional appeal to the perpetrator to report.
“Can you live with this?” She said in the TV program Op1. “Whoever did this has no life anymore.”
Who does such a thing?
But why do people drive on after an accident? Traffic psychologist Kim Ruijs answered this question earlier at EditieNL.
According to her, there are two types of drivers: “One group has something to hide, the other group is completely stressed,” she says. “People who have something to hide, for example, have used alcohol or drove too fast. They drive on because they don’t want to be caught.”
The other group does no harm, but can no longer think rationally after an accident. “They can no longer function. It only settles hours later, and then the awareness often comes”, says Ruijs.
Three times a day
According to her, we all think we will stop if we cause an accident. “But this can happen to anyone. You have no idea how you react in such situations.”
On average, it happens three times a day that a person drives through after an accident in which someone has been (slightly) injured, according to figures from the 2017 Guarantee Fund, but those figures have been the same for years. In accidents where there is only damage, it happens even more often: about 120 times a day.
“Did she look back?”
The fact that the driver has not yet reported is very difficult for the next of kin, says Jaap Timmer. “They cause great emotional damage. And the longer it takes for the motorist to report, the greater the damage. A judge also takes this into account: the longer it takes for the suspect to report, the higher the penalty. Precisely because of the suffering with the next of kin. “
This is also evident from the story of Tamar’s mother at Op1: “Did she look back? Did she notice that a car was coming?” Those are the questions that her mother constantly haunts her head. “Only the one who was in the car knows that. I can’t ask Tamar anymore. Come over the bridge.”
She hopes that the driver will still report. “I think that is fair for Tamar. She was a very sweet girl, very forgiving, she never stayed angry for long.”
Telephone masts and cameras
Timmer explains how a police investigation after a traffic accident normally proceeds if the perpetrator does not report. “Traces are being secured on the road, on the roadside and on the victim. The victim has come into contact with a vehicle during the collision, and that leaves traces. They will be thoroughly investigated in the near future.”
The environment is also being combed out. “The cell towers are looked at and camera images are detected: who was nearby at the time of the investigation? The help of the public is also called in: who has seen something nearby, or who has a car with unexplained damage? seen?
The police said yesterday that they have received dozens of tips on the case so far.