Fatal crashes spike in state

DELAWARE — In the midst of a spike in fatal crashes statewide, Delaware State Police and the Office of Highway safety publicized traffic safety reminders.

There were 107 crash deaths this year as of Monday, compared to 88 at the same time in 2018.
Fatal crashes per county included 42 in New Castle, 41 in Sussex and 16 in Kent. They resulted in 46, 43 and 18 deaths, respectively.

Also, seatbelt violations rose in deadly incidents from 25 to 39 in the past year, pedestrian deaths went up from 16 to 23.
While alcohol- and drug-involved numbers were officially lower at the moment, DSP spokeswoman Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said that they could rise as toxicology reports are completed.

“The risk of being involved in a crash is greatly reduced for anyone operating a motor vehicle by eliminating distractions, paying attention, obeying the speed limit, and not driving under the influence,” Cpl. Jaffe said in a news release.

The majority of fatal crashes are attributed to some form of distracted driving, DSP said. This involves the driver failing to provide the proper time and attention to the roadway and to the task of driving. Other high-risk behaviors of motorists include impaired driving, speeding, unsafe driving behaviors including the use of electronic devices and the failure of motorists and passengers alike to wear seat belts.

DSP offered traffic safety tips:
Limit distractions: Using your cell phone, texting, and fiddling with the radio or GPS should all be done when you are at a complete stop or avoided altogether. Give 100% of your attention to the road.

Walk Smart: Distracted walking, wearing dark clothing, and walking under the influence are common factors in pedestrian crashes in Delaware. Wear bright clothing, carry a flashlight, keep your head up and keep your eyes on the road and surrounding areas. Catch a cab or rideshare lift, or have a designated driver take you home. Walking under impairment is never worth the risk.

Slow Down: Reducing speeds and/or maintaining safer speeds. Avoid the fast lane if possible. If you are in the center or far-right lanes, you are more able to maneuver away from a potentially dangerous situation than if you are in the fast lane.

Be Attentive: Never just assume that a driver is going to stop or turn. It’s better to assume they may not! For example, when going through a red light, still look both ways to check if anyone is going to run the light. Not only do drunk drivers often run red lights, but so do distracted drivers.

Driving Under the Influence: Whether it be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, impaired driving is a crime. Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys. If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.

Wear Your Seatbelt: One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is to buckle up. Understand the potentially fatal consequences of not wearing a seat belt and learn what you can do to make sure you and your family are properly buckled up every time.

“The Office of Highway Safety is currently running our pedestrian, occupant protection, and distracted driving campaigns and enforcements in every county,” spokeswoman Cynthia Cavett said.

“We want the public to be aware of actions they can take to protect themselves on Delaware roadways. October is Pedestrian Safety Month. Please walk bright and walk smartly by wearing bright clothes, carrying a flashlight, and being aware when crossing Delaware’s busy roads.”

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