Carney outlines roadway safety initiatives

Legislation aims to combat reckless driving
March 29, 2023

Gov. John Carney and state officials revealed a legislative package March 29  to curb traffic fatalities and improve safety on Delaware roadways.

“Last year, Delaware tied its record for traffic fatalities with 165 lives lost on our roadways. We have a crisis on our roadways and we need to act now,” Carney said at a press conference in Smyrna. “This package of legislation, along with the current activities and protection measures, will expand safety measures for all Delawareans and travelers.”

Six pieces of legislation are proposed to curb reckless driving, prohibit open containers of alcohol in most vehicles, expand move-over protections, require a helmet for the first two years of holding a motorcycle license, strengthen child safety seat requirements, and enable green lights on snow plows to increase visibility.

“We continue to see an alarming number of fatalities on Delaware roads with 165 last year and more than 30 already in 2023. Our top priority is safety, and these legislative proposals can help make our roads safer,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski. 

Carney’s fiscal year 2024 recommended budget includes funding for a Traffic Education and Enforcement Unit – 11 officers who will patrol Delaware’s highest-incident roadways to help curb excessive speeding and prevent accidents.

Current Delaware State Police enforcement is focused on speeding, distracted driving, illegal truck parking and intersection safety. A pilot program aims to create a wrong-way driver notification system.

Legislation to be introduced includes a new reckless driving offense for anyone speeding over 90 mph. Speeding was a contributor to 26 fatal crashes in Delaware from 2020-22, officials said.

Open container legislation, which will be introduced by Rep. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, and House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, would ban open containers in passenger vehicles except for buses, taxis and limousines, or the living quarter sections of motor homes or trailers. Delaware is one of five states that has not prohibited open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle. Alcohol was a factor in 26% of Delaware’s fatal crashes in 2021.

“For too long, Delaware has been behind the curve on this very important public safety issue. Prohibiting passengers from having an open container in the vehicle they are riding in is another way to protect the motoring public at large. Whether you are the driver of a vehicle or the passenger, with this new bill, we are saying that it is against the law to have an open container of alcohol in the car. If it dissuades even one person from engaging in reckless or drunken driving, then we’ve accomplished our goal of protecting our roadways,” Dukes said.  

Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford, is among legislators supporting graduated motorcycle helmet legislation. Statistics from the Delaware Department of Transportation show that 25% of serious injury and fatal accidents occurred among Delaware licensed motorcycles riders within their first two years of obtaining a license, officials said. It would also extend the graduated helmet requirements to mopeds and tripeds. Over the last five years, 35 motorcyclists were killed and 143 were seriously injured on Delaware roadways while not wearing helmets.

“I've been on the scene of a lot of motorcycle accidents, and I've repeatedly witnessed the benefits of wearing a helmet," said Short, a life member of the Seaford Fire Department. "My bill requires new riders to wear a helmet for the first two years after getting their endorsement. These riders are at the greatest risk of a mishap, and this law will help protect them when they are at their most vulnerable."


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