Lower speed limit for safer Coastal Highway

February 28, 2014

“Speeding makes crashes more likely and more likely to be deadly.” -
Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety is an independent organi­zation dedicated to reducing the losses - deaths, injuries and prop­erty damage - from crashes on the nation’s roads. Given the deaths and serious injuries that occurred last summer on Route 1 from Five Points to Delaware Seashore State Park, the work of the institute should be of great interest here.

That’s why the quotation from the insti­tute’s home page is included here. Because of a lack of money and lead time, the lighting and regulated-crosswalk projects slated to begin addressing safety issues on the highway won’t be in place for the summer ahead. But that doesn’t mean serious affordable measures shouldn’t be taken to avoid a repeat of last year’s carnage.

For one, the speed limit on the highway from Dartmouth Drive, at the northern Wawa, to Dewey Beach should be reduced to 35 miles per hour. What will that do? Note the quota­tion from the insurance institute.

It’s true that conventional speed enforce­ment is difficult in this stretch because there are no shoulders where violators can be pulled over. However, that doesn’t mean other speed enforcement methods can’t be used. The institute reports that as of Febru­ary, Maryland, Washington and Illinois use cameras statewide to enforce speed limits.

In addition, 134 individual communities use those cameras.

By demanding a lower speed limit in the busiest and most distraction-filled stretch of Route 1, and deployment and broad adver­tisement of the use of speed cameras, we as a community will show how serious we are about making the highway safer.

In addition, Route 1 should be a helmet­required zone for cyclists, with tickets issued by bicycle police officers to those not comply­ing. It’s estimated that helmets reduce seri­ous head injury to cyclists in crashes by 85 percent.

Serious situations demand serious action.

Residents and visitors alike should feel safe when walking, cycling or driving on our Cape Region’s main street. Let’s not wait for more deaths and injuries to take these common­sense steps.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Dave Frederick, sports editor.