Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — A bill currently before the Pennsylvania state senate could require auto repair shops to play a part in tracking down drivers involved in hit-and-run collisions.
Put forth by Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and approved 11-0 on Tuesday, the bill calls for the establishment of an alert system to notify repair shops of when a hit-and-run crash has occurred and what vehicle might be looking for an impromptu, and illegal, repair.
The bill was inspired by the death of Jayanna Powell in 2016; an eight-year-old girl who was hit by a car while walking home from school in Philadelphia.
The proposed “Jay Alerts”, named in her honour, would contain a description of a vehicle that had fled the scene and be distributed to repair shops, which would be required to register with PennDOT.
“Repair shops will be put on notice that if someone comes within a certain period of time with damages to their car that were alerted by the state police…that information would be advanced to the state police and then they would investigate those cars,” said Williams.
If a shop is discovered as failing to report a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle in the alert system, the owner or operator of the shop could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.
In the case of Jayanna Powell, an accomplice took the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle to a shop 30 kilometres outside of Philadelphia to receive repairs.
The owner of that repair shop saw a news report about a reward being offered for information leading to the driver’s arrest, which led to police tracking him down.