L.A.-based Assemblyman Mike Gatto's proposal to create an Amber Alert–style system of freeway sign messages for serious hit-and-run collisions across California is getting the support of L.A. city leaders.
Councilman Mitch Englander and brass from the Los Angeles Police Department stood with Gatto outside City Hall yesterday to trumpet the legislation known as AB 47.
Gatto calls it a “Yellow Alert” system:
The Burbank assemblyman has said his related legislation was inspired, in part, by L.A. Weekly's coverage of the city's hit-and-run “epidemic.”
See also: L.A.'s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic
Gatto's legislation includes an enacted law that increased the statute of limitations on such cases from three years to six, and a bill that would mean drivers involved in even minor hit-and-runs could lose their licenses for six months.
He told us previously that his Yellow Alert idea would not blast all of California's freeway signs, the way Amber Alerts sometimes do. Rather it would flash a description of a vehicle and its plate, where possible, in cases of serious-injury or fatal hit-and-runs on freeway signs near the scene of the crime.
Inspired by the Medina Alert System in Colorado, Englander already pitched such road-sign messages for the city of L.A. Gatto's bill would take the idea statewide.
Englander's office explained why the city is on board:
The partnership is a first in Los Angeles’ history and represents a historic turning point in the years-long effort to address the hit-and-run crimes.
Los Angeles and its surrounding communities are in the grips of a hit-and-run epidemic. The Los Angeles Police Department records approximately 20,000 hit-and-runs each year, with about a fifth of those resulting in injuries or death to the victim. Nearly half of all vehicle crashes in the City of Los Angeles are hit-and-runs, compared to the national average of 11 percent.
Gatto's office said he and city leaders also are launching an educational campaign to inform drivers that leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime.
In all parts of California, it has gotten to the point where not a single weekend goes by without all of us seeing on the news another hit-and-run tragedy. Most people believe that one of the worst things a human can do to another human is leave someone on the side of the road to die. It's time our laws should reflect our values