Officials: Crashes down due to fewer vehicles on the road

A low amount of traffic along old U.S. 13 in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — There’s ample traffic-related changes during these troubled days.

Average gasoline prices dropped to $1.98 in Delaware, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported Thursday. That’s down 52 cents since last year.

Traffic flow decreased about 45 percent compared to the same time last year, the Department of Transportation said.

Vehicle crashes have dropped significantly relative to past years, according to state police.

And Gov. John Carney ordered First Staters to stay at home whenever possible.

On Facebook, readers reacted to current low fuel prices and driving limitations:

• Said Austin Freysinger, “No one is listening to the essential travel thing at all in Dover, seems like more cars are out now then before the stay-at-home order.”

• Terry Roper reported that gas was $1.85 per gallon in Smyrna.

• According to Jon Falkowski, gas “Should be less than $1/gal like it was time oil barrels were this low.”

• Robert Hawthorne maintained that “I still have to drive to work, as many still do .. cheap gas is a good thing.”

Dover Police spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman didn’t have statistics readily available but said “traffic seems to be lighter at the present time and the volume of crashes seems to be down as a result.”

Fewer cars and trucks rolling by has allowed DelDOT to waive “work hour restrictions on our capital and maintenance projects to allow contractors to work more aggressively on projects that are underway,” according to spokesman C.R. McLeod.

Several related businesses were deemed essential — highway and road construction, building construction, utilities, engineering and other professional services.

“A communication has been sent to all of our contractors, consultants, (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) firms and vendors letting them know that DelDOT is still open for business,” McLeod said.

“All projects, products and services will continue, but with some modifications regarding person-to-person interactions. Projects under construction will continue; awarded contracts will continue as scheduled and design work is still underway.”

DelDOT, Mr. McLeod said, has enacted many operational adjustments for the safety of employees and customers — details are available online at deldot.delaware.gov/coronavirus.

Department-wide DelDOT has mandatory telecommuting where possible, all meetings are done telephonically and no more than two people in a field crew vehicle, among other actions.

Prices drop rapidly

While gas prices had spiraled downward since January, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Ken Grant said the trend rapidly accelerated due to COVID-19 lessening demand and the crude oil prices falling during the Saudi-Russian oil war.

Gas hasn’t been this cheap since 2016, Mr. Grant said, and conditions may stymie a typical spring run up, Mr. Grant said.

According to AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano, “Typically gas prices start to trend more expensive at the beginning of spring, especially as motorists get out to enjoy the warmer weather and travel for spring break. That is not the case this year.

“With Americans urged to stay at home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, we are seeing less traffic on the roadways which will ultimately drive down demand, increase gasoline supply and push pump prices less expensive for the foreseeable future.”

Officials said traffic on the Delaware Memorial Bridge connecting the state to New Jersey declined 40 percent compared to March 18-24 of last year. Cashless tolling was planned to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and no collectors would be present. No cash would be accepted.

E-Z Pass is available in all lanes and motorists without them will have their license plate captured. The vehicle’s registered owner will receive an invoice via U.S. Mail.

Average gas prices

According to AAA-Mid Atlantic on Wednesday, here past and present average gasoline prices in Delaware:

Dover

Current avg. price per gallon $1.98

One week ago avg. $2.12

Month ago avg. $2.38

Year ago avg. $2.49

Milford/Seaford

Current avg. price per gallon $1.98

One week ago avg. $2.08

Month ago avg. $2.38

Year ago avg. $2.49

Wilmington/Newark

Current avg. price per gallon $2.01

One week ago avg. $2.13

Month ago avg. $2.39

Year ago avg. $2.51

Fuel cost trends

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, here are regional gasoline cost trends:

• Delaware gas average at $2.00 Wednesday, down 2 cents overnight and down 11 cents in the last week.

• Maryland gas average at $2.09 Wednesday, down 2 cents overnight and down 11 cents in the last week.

• New Jersey gas average at $2.25 Wednesday, down a penny overnight and down 9 cents in the last week.

• Pennsylvania gas average at $2.31 Wednesday, down 2 cents overnight and down 12 cents in the last week.

• National gas average at $2.08 Wednesday, down 2 cents overnight and down 13 cents in the last week.

Crash numbers

According to Delaware State Police, here are the number of crashes between March 16-24 the past three years. Police note that Fridays and Saturdays involved in the time frame will affect numbers. Police said, however, the 2020 crash numbers are significantly lower than would be expected.

2020 – 545

2019 – 784

2018 – 866


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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