LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stricter enforcement needed on Delaware roads

This is an open letter to Gov. Carney, General Assembly members, Homeland Security and Safety and the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Horrific news of the loss of five members of a New Jersey family, including four children and one parent, is a clarion call for drastic enforcement action and a review of traffic control procedures on Delaware roadways.

As a retired Delaware state trooper, Army officer with more than 40 years of service, and most importantly, proud grandfather, I am dismayed at the conditions being openly permitted that encourage high speed and reckless behavior by drivers on our highways, most notably that on Delaware Route One.

Routinely, speeds and careless disregard for others on that roadway exceed 85 to 100 mph-plus. Weaving in traffic, following too closely and disregard for “right-of-way” are commonly practiced by violators.

The circumstances leading to this specific tragedy are not yet fully published, but high speed and lack of driver caution/attention contributed to this loss of life and injury to at least eight people. The mid-afternoon crash, likely in heavy shore-bound and rush-hour traffic, on a clear day, with dry roadway is not an uncommon occurrence. Nevertheless, it is unacceptable.

Weather was not likely a factor, nor roadway condition, nor the ongoing dedication of our troopers and local law enforcement to stop the carnage.

The remedy lies not only with stricter enforcement. Individual driver behavior is often seriously flawed and needs a broad approach to correct the deficiencies with penalties and prohibitions. Delaware is not unique in this experience.

My travels across this nation have shown the same careless disregard for safety and life throughout. It is systemic and broad in scope. There is limited respect, courtesy or kindness shown by drivers. To correct this obvious deficiency, a combination of severe non-waivable penalties, suspensions, seizure of vehicles and other deterrents need to be adopted with stringent application.

It is beyond time for our leadership to take strong action to ensure safety on our roadways. What more does it take, than the untimely, violent and unacceptable loss of four young people and a parent to a completely preventable crash on a limited access thoroughfare traversing Delaware to our shores on a Friday afternoon?

Retired officers and first responders can assist as observers, spotters, and reporting of careless drivers. Offer a “volunteer corps” of trained, experienced personnel to assist our fine, established agencies.

Gov. Carney, please provide the leadership for improved processes, resources, commitment, daily situational review, enhanced methods of communication, support of law enforcement, Delaware Department of Transportation and all first responders is not only important to the people of Delaware, it is imperative.

Responsible and caring leadership must act now and carry it forward as an enduring commitment for the future. The people of Delaware and her visitors must settle for no less than your complete involvement in curbing this malady on our roadways.

Edward F. Martin III

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