Dover Police Department to start safety campaign

DOVER — Beginning Monday, the Dover Police Department will crack down on distracted driving and pedestrian violations during their Walk Smart, Drive Smart campaign, officials said.

The campaign will continue through April 22,

Since January 2011, it has been illegal to use cellphones while driving unless a hands-free device is being used.

Despite numerous campaigns, advertisements and enforcement efforts, the department said officers still sees drivers talking on phones or texting while driving on roadways.

This not only creates a dangerous situation for the driver and passengers, but every person around them on the roadways, police said.

According to Delaware law, personal observation by a law-enforcement officer of a driver using a communication device while driving can lead to arrest.

According to studies cited by police:

• In 2013, there were 146 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Delaware, with 54 of those causing injuries, and three fatalities. Through last week, there were 109 crashes with 56 injuries and no fatalities.

• The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

• As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and Guam) every month.

• 10 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

• Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.

• Engaging in behavior such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting, associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices, increased the risk of crashing by three times.

• Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

• A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

Despite numerous infrastructure improvements to provide safe walkways and crossing areas for pedestrians, pedestrian-related accidents and fatalities remain high in Delaware, ranking among the worst in the country.

Dover Police officers will work to enforce pedestrian laws in order to educate and change the behavior of those who choose not to utilize the proper areas to cross roadways in Dover, authorities said.

The goal of the pedestrian enforcement campaign is to reduce the number of pedestrian-related accidents/near-accidents and pedestrian fatalities in the area.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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