What does a four-hour traffic trial tell us?

December 29, 2017

Here's the state of traffic and congestion in coastal Sussex: In a courtroom in Georgetown recently there was a four-hour trial on a charge of failure to remain stopped. The charge followed a crash alleged to have occurred after the driver failed to remain stopped.

The driver was eventually found guilty. But that's not really the point. The point is that with this area developing so rapidly, with so many new people on narrow roads where traffic exceeds design capacity, crashes like this have become commonplace.

We have intersections with two-way stops, three-way stops and four-way stops. People are confused about who has the right-of-way and that can lead to crashes.

Many people moving here are retired and don't confine driving to morning or afternoon. Our roads are busy all day long, and often with people unfamiliar with how the different kinds of intersections work, or not.

Five Points and its associated Malfunction Junction, and the surrounding area, are examples of increasing chaos contributing to crashes.

Delaware's Department of Transportation is clearly behind the curve on keeping up with Sussex development.

Sussex planners and council members have to recognize that reality, and require developers to present solutions for failing roads and intersections.

Solving traffic problems should be one of the costs for developing in a county with the most permissive zoning in the region.

Preference should be given to developments that not only preserve open space within their boundaries, but also preserve open space elsewhere in Sussex through contributions to the state's agricultural preservation program. Land preserved won't create more congestion in the future.

Finally, it might be time to require training courses at various times through a driver's life – such as every 20 years or so – rather than just when a person turns 16. Avoiding failure-to-remain-stopped crashes and associated four-hour trials will save lots of injuries, heartache and money.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.