Delaware Traffic Fatalities Reach 2021 Total

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Delaware now has 139 traffic fatalities, reaching last year’s total of 139, the highest number since 2006.

“Thousands of Delawareans will take to the roads in the coming days and weeks to visit friends and family near and far and no matter your destination, we remind drivers to put their safety and that of those around them first,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski.

In 2021, there were 33 fatalities that occurred in November and December.

The number of fatalities on our roadways is tragic and heartbreaking. The Office of Highway Safety recently launched its “Safe Family Holiday” campaign to address the leading causes of holiday crashes in Delaware: driving under the influence, speeding, distracted driving, and pedestrian safety and encourages Delawareans to make responsible choices on our roadways,” said Kimberly Chesser, Director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. “During the holidays people tend to get wrapped up in celebrations and activities and relax their safe driving behaviors. Drivers are reminded of poor winter weather conditions, increased holiday traffic, and more pedestrian activity, meaning more dangerous conditions that require your full attention behind the wheel.”

Drugs and alcohol were contributing factors in 36 percent of fatal crashes last year and serves as a reminder to drive sober.

“We must all work together to prevent and eliminate crashes leading to serious injuries and deaths in our State. Safety is our number one priority. We strongly encourage everyone to slow down, avoid distractions behind the wheel and be on the lookout for people walking and biking. It is imperative we all take an active role to protect each other,” said Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Nathaniel McQueen, Jr.

More than 8,200 people were also seriously injured in crashes in 2021.

However you plan to travel this holiday season, please do so safely and don’t become a statistic.


Delaware Office Of Highway Safety Kicks Off New Holiday Campaign To Reduce Crashes During The Hazardous Driving Season

The annual Safe Family Holiday campaign seeks to prevent the holidays from “getting ugly” by helping Delawareans avoid dangerous driver, passenger, and pedestrian behaviors.

DOVER, Del. (Nov. 17, 2022) — Starting on Nov. 18, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) will begin its annual holiday safety campaign, designed to reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths on Delaware roadways during a time of year that consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous for the traveling public.

 The campaign will run through Dec. 31 utilizing high visibility enforcement in conjunction with an integrated, multifaceted communications strategy to reach high-risk audiences. To add to the credibility of the messaging and ensure it reaches the right audiences in the right places, OHS has partnered with businesses and organizations — including bars and restaurants, faith-based organizations, and holiday markets.

 “Our Safe Family Holiday campaign focuses on ensuring safe driving habits and encourages Delawareans to make responsible choices,” said Kimberly Chesser, Director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety “people tend to get wrapped up in celebrations and activities during the holidays and relax their safe driving behaviors.  Drivers are reminded of poor winter weather conditions, increased holiday traffic, and more pedestrian activity, meaning more dangerous conditions that require your full attention behind the wheel.”

The OHS Safe Family Holiday campaign addresses the leading causes of holiday crashes in Delaware: driving under the influence, speeding, distracted driving, and pedestrian safety. In addition to the support of business and community partners, who will help display and distribute traffic safety messaging, OHS will connect with Delawareans statewide through a mix of paid advertising, social media, public relations, and grassroots engagements at multiple community events.  

As an added approach to make an immediate connection with messaging and the holiday season, OHS has creatively leveraged the ubiquity of the ugly holiday sweater, urging people throughout the state to “prevent the holidays from getting ugly” by taking all the steps necessary to avoid a crash.

Here are a few key points OHS would like everyone to remember before making driving decisions this season:

  • If you’re planning a night out that includes drinking, make sure you plan for a sober ride home. Use a rideshare service, or public transportation, or call a friend or family member to get you home safely.
  • With worsening road conditions this time of year, it’s extremely important to avoid distractions while driving. Put down your phone, always buckle up, and focus on the road ahead.
  • You may be itching to get home for the holidays, but so is everyone else. Slow down and follow posted speed limits before things get ugly.
  • If you choose to walk home from celebrations, wear bright or reflective clothing and/or items to make yourself as visible as possible. Additionally, motorists need to be aware of increased pedestrian activity as visibility may be impaired due to hazardous weather and shorter daylight hours during the winter months.

Statistics

Each holiday, the OHS campaign focuses on the following pillars of awareness and behavioral change:

  • Impaired driving: Last year (Nov. 21, to Dec. 31, 2021), there were 3 crash-related deaths due to impaired driving/DUI and 476 arrests.
  • Speeding: In 2021, speed was involved in 43 vehicle fatalities, accounting for approximately 32% of all traffic fatalities.
  • Pedestrian safety: In 2021, 29 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes.
  • Seat belt neglect: While seat belt use is at an all-time high in Delaware, currently 36% of crash deaths occur when a vehicle occupant is not restrained — a 21% increase from 2021.
  • Distracted driving: A person who texts while driving is three times more likely to cause a crash than a driver under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 25% of Delaware’s crashes can be attributed at least in part to distracted driving.

Community Engagements — OHS Safety Snowman and Zoey Glowey Appearances

In addition to the communications tactics listed above, the OHS “Safety Snowman” and “Zoey Glowey” will appear at the following holiday events in support of the campaign:

  • Dover Motor Speedway Gift of Lights, Dover, DE. 5, from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Santa’s Secret Shop at George Wilson Community Center, Newark, DE. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • New Castle County Hope Center, New Castle, DE. 15, from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Schellville 2022 Enchanted Winter Celebration, Rehoboth Beach, DE. 18, from 5 to 9 p.m.

 

About the Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues, such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, and teen driving issues. FAQs can be found at ArriveAliveDE.com. Follow OHS on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Media Contact: jason.coleman@delaware.gov


Delaware Authorities Caution Drivers to Watch Out for Deer During Mating Season

Onset of peak deer activity in Delaware during mating season calls for vigilance by drivers at dawn, dusk and overnight. /DNREC photo

 

Extra Vigilance on Roads Called for as Days Shorten and Deer Become More Active Morning and Evening

Use extra caution on the roads during the deer mating season is the warning to Delaware drivers from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Office of Highway Safety (OHS) within the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and Delaware State Police (DSP). Late October through November is the peak period for deer-related crashes, as that’s when white-tailed deer males (bucks) are in their annual pursuit of females (does) in the First State. That pursuit leads to more deer crossing roadways in the shorter days ahead – especially after the Nov. 6 change from daylight saving time back to Eastern Standard Time.

White-tailed deer breed only once a year. The mating season, which carries on from late October sometimes into mid-December, and peaks from Nov. 11 to 20, is referred to as the rut. “During this timeframe, deer activity increases substantially as bucks search for mates,” said DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Program Manager Joe Rogerson. “If a buck’s pursuit of a doe takes them across a roadway, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rural road or Route 1, a collision with a vehicle could occur. Delaware drivers need to pay particular attention while behind the wheel this time of year, especially when driving on roads bordered by woods or agricultural fields, since that’s where deer are more apt to run out onto the roadway.”

With the end of daylight saving time, more motorists will be traveling to and from work and school around dawn and dusk, when deer are typically most active. According to the latest Delaware Office of Highway Safety data, deer-vehicle collisions occur most often between 5 and 7 a.m. and spike again from 5 to 10 p.m. – which includes the timeframe when many people are heading home for the evening. “With shorter daylight hours during the fall, we see an increase in deer along our roadways,” said Kimberly Chesser, Office of Highway Safety director. “We remind drivers to be alert, pay attention to the road and surroundings, and be more cautious during these times. Slow down and watch for deer crossing signs that indicate areas where deer are known to cross the road. Never drive impaired and always buckle up, every trip, every time.”

The average white-tailed deer in Delaware weighs about 140 pounds, with larger bucks going 200 pounds or more, according to the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife. Hitting an animal that size may cause injury to drivers or passengers, or trigger an accident involving other motorists – besides doing costly damage to vehicles involved in such a collision.

In 2021, 1,849 or 95% of the 1,945 vehicle-animal collisions investigated by Delaware State Police involved deer. Of that number, 821 collisions with deer occurred in October, November and December, the months spanned by the deer mating season in Delaware, when drivers are warned to be most attentive. “Deer collisions typically increase during this time of the year, so it is essential for drivers to remain vigilant,” said Sergeant India Sturgis, DSP director of public information. “Although deer are more active at dawn and dusk, they are also active during broad daylight. Wearing your seatbelt, reducing your speed, and driving alert may not prevent all deer-related collisions, but can certainly reduce injuries and vehicle damage if you are involved in a collision.”

Based on reported insurance claims from July 1, 2021 to June 20, 2022, State Farm Insurance ranked Delaware 32nd nationally with drivers having a 1-in-122 chance of being involved in an animal collision, with deer accounting for the majority of animal-related crashes and vehicle damage claims. To avoid a large out-of-pocket expense, AAA Mid-Atlantic, which provides coverage for Delaware motorists, recommends purchasing a policy that includes comprehensive coverage for collisions with deer or other animals. AAA Mid-Atlantic also notes the average claim submitted for a deer strike is more than $5,000.

DNREC, OHS, DSP and other police agencies and auto insurance companies all agree: the best way to prevent or lessen the severity of deer collisions is attentive driving, which includes avoiding distractions that can take a driver’s eyes off the road, such as mobile phones, adjusting the radio, eating while driving, or passenger activities.

Additional safety tips include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt to reduce your risk of injury in a collision.
  • Reduce speed at night, on curves and in bad weather.
  • Switch to high beams when there is no oncoming traffic to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway and scan the sides of the road as well as what’s directly ahead.
  • Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs marking commonly-traveled areas by deer on the road ahead. Slow down immediately and proceed with caution until past the crossing point.
  • Be aware deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are likely to be others.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten deer away. Do not depend on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer, as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
  • Do not swerve to miss a deer – brake and stay in your lane. Losing control of your vehicle, crossing into another lane, hitting an oncoming vehicle, or leaving the roadway and striking a tree or utility pole will likely result in a much more serious outcome than hitting a deer.
  • If you hit a deer, and your vehicle is damaged, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible, turn on your vehicle hazard lights – and if you or anyone in your vehicle are injured, call 911.
  • Do not touch the animal or get too close; injured deer may bite or kick and are capable of causing serious injury.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, InstagramTwitter or LinkedIn.

About Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, and teen driving issues. FAQs can be answered at ArriveAliveDE.com. You can follow the Delaware Office of Highway Safety by visiting us at: ArriveAliveDE.com, OHS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and YouTube.

Media Contacts:
DNREC: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov, Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov
OHS: Jason Coleman, jason.coleman@delaware.gov
DSP: Sergeant India Sturgis, india.sturgis@delaware.gov; Senior Corporal Jason Hatchell, jason.hatchell@delaware.gov;

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In the Driver’s Seat: Parents Are the Key to Teen Driving Success

Talk to Teens About the Importance of Driving Safety
During National Teen Driver Safety Week

 

DOVER, Del. (Oct 14, 2022)— National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 16-22, 2022 — the perfect opportunity to talk with teens about safe driving habits. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is teaming up with its traffic safety partners, (NHTSA), Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), local high schools, community centers, and businesses across the State to offer educational materials to empower parents to discuss safe driving habits with their young drivers.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States. There were 2,276 people killed in crashes involving a teen passenger vehicle driver (15-18 years old) in 2020; 748 of the deaths were the teen driver. In 2020, an estimated 90,564 teen passenger vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes and an estimated 153,566 people were injured in crashes involving a teen driver, accounting for almost 7% of all roadway injuries that year.

 On Delaware roadways, in 2021, There were 15 fatalities involving teens aged 19 and younger accounting for 11 % of all traffic fatalities. Sadly, in 2022, to date, there have been 16 fatalities involving teens aged 19 and younger trending 60% over the same period in 2021. Statistics show males accounted for 64% of those fatalities vs. 34% of females.

“Parents and caregivers play a critical role in teen driver safety and in communicating important driving safety information,” said Kimberly Chesser, Director, Delaware Office of Highway Safety. “New teen drivers are still gaining experience behind the wheel, which increases the chance of dangerous situations for the teen and other roadway users around them. This is why it’s so important for parents and caregivers to have these discussions with their teens. Start the conversation today and continue it every day.”

Parents and caregivers have a responsibility to help teen drivers make smart choices to stay safe on the road. NHTSA provides tips on how to talk to your teen driver about safer driving. These tips include discussions on how to influence positive behaviors and how to approach dangerous and deadly driving behaviors such as alcohol and other drug use, lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, or driving with passengers

Additionally, NHTSA offers parents and caregivers helpful tips and a framework for having discussions with teen drivers about risky driving behaviors that can lead to fatal consequences.

Tips for Teen Drivers

  • Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. Nationally, 19% of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 had alcohol in their system. Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep teens from driving safely: marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Driving is a complex task and marijuana slows the reaction time. Remind teens that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illicit or prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication — can have deadly consequences. Let teens know that positive driving behaviors are rewarded with the continued privilege to drive.
  • Seat Belt Safety: Wearing a seat belt is one way teens can stay safer in a vehicle. Unfortunately, too many teens aren’t buckling up. Over half (52%) of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died in crashes in 2020 were unbuckled. Teen drivers and passengers are more likely to die in a crash if they are unbuckled (nine out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled). Empower teens to stand strong and confirm everyone is buckled up — including front seat and back seat passengers —before the vehicle moves. Reward teens with driving privileges for buckling up every trip, every time, and requiring their passengers to do the same.
  • Distracted Driving: Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky — it can be deadly. Texting while driving is outlawed in 47 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Remind teens about the dangers of using a phone while driving and clarify that any phone use (texting, talking, or using any social media apps) is unacceptable. Even if they are stopped at a light, remind teens that posting on social media while driving is unacceptable and Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use. Other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of dangerous distractions for any driver. According to the most recent data available, in 2020, among teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, 7% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Remind teens that headphones are not appropriate to wear while driving a vehicle. All drivers need to be able to hear another vehicle’s horn or the siren from an emergency vehicle, so they can safely move over and out of the path.
  • Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens who are less experienced. In 2020, almost one-third (31%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Males were more likely to be involved in fatal speeding-related crashes than females. Remind teens to always drive within the speed limit.
  • Passengers: Passengers in a teen’s vehicle can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases in direct relation to the number of passengers in a vehicle. The likelihood that a teen driver will engage in risky behavior triples when multiple passengers are in the same vehicle.

Passengers: Passengers in a teen’s vehicle can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases in direct relation to the number of passengers in a vehicle. The likelihood that a teen driver will engage in risky behavior triples when multiple passengers are in the same vehicle.

It is vital to have discussions with your teen driver about risky driving behaviors. Self-reported surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and were involved in fewer crashes.

Teens need to understand the rules, whether there are any other restrictions outlined in Delaware’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) law, and the deadly consequences that could occur. By knowing and enforcing the laws, teen drivers’ safety and that of other road users can be improved.

“Teens will learn much of this content in driver education, but it’s through parent and caregiver conversations and their home environment that the lessons are driven home and the rules enforced. These rules should be set before handing over the car keys, said Sarah Cattie, Senior Program Manager, Delaware Office of Highway Safety.“Be proactive and start the conversation about safe driving during National Teen Driver Safety Week, then keep the conversations going every day. Teaching teens safe behaviors behind the wheel is a shared responsibility, and we all have a part to play.”

 

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety, visit https://www.arrivealivede.com/protect-teen-drivers/.

Delaware Office of Highway Safety Logo

About the Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues, such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, and teen driving issues. Follow the Delaware Office of Highway Safety on ArriveAliveDE.comFacebook,  Instagram and  TikTok.

Media Contact:

Delaware Office Of Highway Safety

Jason Coleman

jason.coleman@delaware.gov

302-744-2743 (office)

302-943-7293 (cell)


DelDOT Advises Travelers to Expect Heavy Traffic Over 4th of July Holiday

As the 4th of July holiday weekend approaches, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) advises motorist to expect heavy traffic volumes on roads throughout the state. AAA Mid-Atlantic is forecasting more than 116,000 Delawareans will travel at least 50 miles during the holiday weekend.

In addition, DelDOT reminds motorists that there will be many pedestrians and bicyclists out and local parades and fireworks displays taking place over the long weekend that will impact traffic.

“No matter how you plan to get around this weekend, doing so safely should be everyone’s top priority,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski. “We want everyone to reach their destination safely as the summer travel season begins and more people are on the roads.”

Motorists can increase their safety, and reduce the risk to others by doing the following:

• Always wear seatbelts
• Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Obey posted speed limits
• Do not drive distracted
• Do not drive aggressively

Following these five rules significantly decreases the likelihood of being involved in a crash as these are the leading cause of crashes involving serious injury or death on our roads. To date, there have been 75 crash-related fatalities on Delaware roads, a 40% increase over the same time period last year.

For residents and guests to eastern Sussex County, DART’s Beach Bus routes will have additional buses running this weekend before and after the fireworks display in Rehoboth and is just $2 to ride one way and parking is free at park & ride locations in Rehoboth and Lewes. DART’s entire 4th of July schedule can be viewed here.

DelDOT also has more than 200 traffic cameras available on DelDOT.gov and the free DelDOT mobile app to view real-time traffic conditions across the state.