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Delaware Improves Traffic Safety

There was a 13.6% drop in fatal traffic crashes, and an even greater 14.6% drop in Delaware’s traffic deaths for 2013 compared to 2012, according to an Office of Highway Safety (OHS) press release. For the first time in 50 years, there were less than 100 traffic fatalities in a calendar year in Delaware. There were 95 fatal motor vehicle crashes causing 99 fatalities in 2013 compared to 110 fatal crashes resulting in 116 fatalities in 2012.

It was 1963 when Delaware saw fewer than 100 fatalities when there were 96 traffic deaths.  Since records started being kept in 1929, the worst year was 1988 when 165 people were killed. The fewest number of traffic fatalities occurred in 1961 when 65 people were killed.

Where progress was made

OHS officials state the greatest safety improvement was in seat belt use, which increased to an all-time high of 92%, one of the highest percentages in the country.  There were 52 vehicle occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) in 2013 and of those killed, 48% were not wearing seat belts, the same percentage for 2012.

Fewer fatalities are linked to drunk driving. Preliminary reports also show that 36% of the 99 (or 36%) traffic deaths in 2013 were alcohol-related, which is significantly down from 2012 when 60 (or 52%) of the 116 motorist fatalities were alcohol-related.  Delaware law enforcement officers arrested a total of 4,249 individuals in 2013 for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs statewide compared to 4,198 in 2012.

Where improvement is still needed

Aggressive driving is being blamed for many traffic fatalities.

  • 31% of Delaware’s 95 fatal crashes are attributed to aggressive driving.
  • 37% involve speeding as a factor, higher than the national average of roughly 30% of all fatal crashes.
  • Other issues contributing to fatal crashes include failure to grant right of way, improper lane change and running stop signs.

Delaware Officials State There are Other Traffic Safety Areas That Need Improvement:

  • Pedestrian fatalities continue to be an issue for Delaware.  There was a slight decrease with 2013 ending with 26 pedestrian fatalities compared to 30 in 2012 and OHS states it’s planning more education and enforcement efforts statewide.  The highest contributing factors in pedestrian fatalities, according to the press release, include intoxicated pedestrians darting in front of cars and pedestrians not being visible to motorists.
  • The number of motorcycle fatalities increased, with twenty in 2013 compared to 17 in 2012.  High speed is blamed as the biggest factor to these crashes. Helmet use continues to be high with 65% wearing helmets in 2012 and 2013.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

Despite these positive numbers, far too many of us are injured and killed on Delaware’s roads and highways. If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, for a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000.