Delaware’s highways increasingly dangerous
There are so many things to be thankful for during the harvest season, but safety on our Delaware highways is not one of them.
As is the case across the country, the number of highway crash fatalities has increased significantly this year compared to last. As of Nov. 18 this year, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety reports 123 people have lost their lives as a result of highway crashes. That includes people in cars and on motorcycles, plus pedestrians and bicyclists. This time last year, the number of fatalities stood at 106. That’s a 14 percent increase.
There’s really no silver lining in traffic fatalities, but it should be noted that Delaware’s increase is below the 18 percent jump reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s reportedly the highest percentage increase on record in the U.S. for one year.
Certainly the increase can be attributed – as with so many significant events in the past two years – to the ebb and flow of the coronavirus pandemic, and reduced overall activity last year resulting from shutdowns and people staying home more. Still, an increase of this magnitude, no matter the reason, should get our attention and make us more cautious on our roadways.
One of the most disturbing statistics in this year's highway fatalities compared to 2020 is the radical increase in deaths among motorcycle riders. At this point last year, there were 14 motorcycle-related fatalities reported in Delaware. This year, 24. That’s a spike of 41 percent, and it amplifies the sobering fact that riders not wearing helmets – their choice in Delaware – are 70 percent more likely to suffer serious injuries in crashes and 37 percent more likely to die.
Higher speeds, contributing to more ejections in crashes, continue to be a major factor in fatal collisions.
Speed cameras would undoubtedly reduce this risky behavior, at a fraction of the cost of other enforcement efforts. Our lawmakers should embrace this technology sooner rather than later to seriously reduce these grim statistics.