Gov. John Carney signed a package of legislation designed to increase safety on Delaware’s roadways.
- Curbing speeding and reckless driving
- Expanding “Move Over” protections
- Requiring helmets in the first two years of a motorcycle license
- Strengthening child safety seat requirements
- Enabling green lights on snow plows to increase visibility
“It’s our responsibility to keep Delawareans safe,” said Carney. “This package of legislation, along with the current activities and protection measures, will save lives. Thank you to all the members of the General Assembly, the teams at the Departments of Transportation and Safety and Homeland Security, and advocates for their commitment to these pieces of legislation. Please drive safely this Fourth of July holiday.”
“Delaware has had 43 fatalities on our roads since Gov. Carney announced the introduction of these bills three months ago, bringing our total for the year to 75. We are grateful to the state legislators who stepped forward to sponsor and support these bills, and Governor Carney for signing this package into law today as we enter peak summer travel season on our roads,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski.
Current actions by the Delaware State Police and DelDOT to address traffic safety include:
- Increased enforcement for speeding and distracted drivers;
- Increased safety investments statewide;
- Increased enforcement of illegal truck parking;
- Piloting a wrong way driver notification system;
The Fiscal Year 24 recommended budget includes funding to create a Traffic Education and Enforcement Unit. This new unit of 11 officers will patrol Delaware’s highest incident roadways to help curb excessive speeding and prevent accidents.
As part of the legislative package, House Bill 120, sponsored by State Rep. Franklin Cooke and Sen. Kyra Hoffner, establishes speeding violations of 90 miles per hour or more as a Reckless Driving offense, subject to fines, traffic school, or community service – picking up litter on the side of the road. Speeding contributed to 26 fatal crashes in Delaware from 2020 – 2022.
“Delaware is among the states who have the highest amount of traffic fatalities — many of which involve or are the direct result of a driver speeding,” said Hoffner. “By penalizing drivers who travel at extreme speeds, we can hopefully change behaviors and help to save lives.”
House Bill 92, otherwise known as “Move over” legislation, led by Rep. William Carson, Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman, and Sen. Stephanie Hansen, requires drivers to change lanes or reduce their speed while approaching any stationary vehicle on the shoulder or in the roadway displaying warning signals. Warning signals may include vehicle hazard warning lights, road flares, traffic cones, cautions, or non-vehicular warning signs. In 2022, 13 people were killed in Delaware while in or near stopped vehicles.
Senate Bill 86 led by Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola, Rep. Sean Lynn, and Rep. Danny Short, requires all riders to wear a helmet in their first two years of having a motorcycle endorsement. Statistics from the Delaware Department of Transportation show that 25 percent of serious injury and fatal accidents among Delaware licensed motorcycle riders occurred within their first two years of obtaining a license. Over the last five years, 35 motorcyclists were killed, and 143 were seriously injured on Delaware roadways while not wearing helmets.
“As someone who has been on the scene of countless motorcycle accidents, and being an avid rider myself, I’ve witnessed the life-saving benefits of wearing a helmet firsthand,” said Short. “This new law could easily be called the Delaware Funeral Reduction Act. I believe its enactment will prevent a lot of families from grieving over a preventable tragedy.”
Senate Bill 86, introduced by Sen. Kyle Evans Gay and Rep. Krista Griffith, requires children under two and under 30 pounds to be in a rear-facing seat with a 5-point harness, and those under four and under 40 pounds would need to be in either a front- or rear-facing seat with a 5 point harness. From age 4-16, using a booster to the maximum height and weight limits would be required, then using a seatbelt. Enforcement would not take place until after a year-long awareness campaign. This proposed revision to Delaware’s child safety seat requirements adds speficics to the law, which currently only requires an “appropriate” car seat or booster.
Senate Bill 89 allows state-owned and operated snow plows to use a revolving or flashing green light and was sponsored by Senator Spiros Mantzavinos and Representative William Carson. Green lights are better seen in snowy conditions than white or amber lights due to the increased contrast, and have been adopted for plows in recent years by states including Michigan and Ohio. Flashing or revolving lights on vehicles must be authorized through legislation.
Additionally, House Substitute 1 for House Bill 94 implements a five-year trial run of a system that would permit the use of automatic speed cameras in work zones and residential areas within municipalities.