COMMENTARY: Toward Zero Deaths aims to eradicate Delaware road fatalities

As we head into the Labor Day holiday, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security want to stress the importance of safety on our roadways.

Jennifer Cohan

To date this year, 71 people have lost their lives in crashes on Delaware roadways. This is compared to 59 fatalities during the same period in 2017. While this rising trend is not unique to Delaware, as fatalities are also up nationwide, it is a very alarming and we all can play a role in reversing this deadly trend.

There are several state agencies involved in highway safety. While we may all have differing roles, we continue to work closely together to maximize our effectiveness. Our statewide Strategic Highway Safety Plan is entitled Toward Zero Deaths as that is our goal — to reduce road crash fatalities to zero.

Our plan also includes safety focus areas where we go above the national safety standards to ensure we are doing everything we can to build, operate, and maintain the safest infrastructure possible. Our focus areas include; improving the design and operation of highway intersections, reducing impaired driving, increasing motorcycle safety and awareness, increasing seat belt usage, reducing roadway departure crashes, reducing speed related crashes and make walking and street crossing safer.

To ensure that we are focusing our resources in the appropriate areas, our agencies rely heavily on crash data to map out effective, preemptive strategies. We look at time and location of crashes as well as causality and weather conditions, and plan our countermeasures accordingly. Yet all of the enforcement, education and engineering can only go so far to address highway crashes and fatalities.

Everyone that uses our road system shares the responsibility to do their part in promoting safety. You can increase your safety and reduce the risk to others by doing the following:

• Always wear your seat belt

• Never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

• Obey posted speed limits

• Do not drive distracted

• Do not drive aggressively

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Robert Coupe

Following these five rules significantly decreases your likelihood of being involved in a crash as these are the leading cause of crashes involving serious injury or death on our roads.

More than 100 people die on Delaware roadways every year and hundreds more suffer injuries that permanently change their lives. All of us who drive on Delaware roadways need to do our part to ensure our roads are safe and remember that the vehicles we are operating are capable of inflicting great harm if not used in the appropriate manner.

We will continue to do our part in service to our state to reduce crashes and appreciate those drivers who are safe drivers and set the example that we all should follow.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jennifer L. Cohan is secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation and Robert M. Coupe is secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

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