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State traffic safety conference focuses on tech, pedestrian deaths

Annie Ropeik/Delaware Public Media
Vendors show off traffic safety technology at the Delaware Highway Safety Conference inside Dover Downs Hotel & Casino on Tuesday.

Law enforcement agencies and state officials are exploring the latest in traffic safety technology and ways to prevent crime and pedestrian deaths in Dover this week.

It's part of the fifth Delaware Highway Safety Conference in eight years.


In that time, state police Lieutenant Matthew Cox says their field has changed in almost every way:

"We've gone from -- maybe a little over eight years, but from handwritten reports to everything being computerized," says Cox, who's also deputy director of the troopers' traffic section. "We've got cameras in cars ... we're utilizing many, many computer programs to crunch data -- to basically mine all of the reports and entries [from] not just Delaware State Police but every police agency, from DNREC to Delaware State Police to every municipality."

He says that helps them analyze statewide trends and see what their top concerns should be.


For state Highway Safety director Jana Simpler, it's pedestrian fatalities, which have been on the rise in recent years.

"We're finding ways, again -- looking at the data, crunching numbers, finding out who our pedestrians are that are being killed," she says. "And we develop education campaigns and work with our law enforcement partners to find ways to drive down those numbers in the coming months."

Delaware has seen more pedestrian deaths so far in 2015 than it did in all of 2014. So Simpler says they'll look at promoting safe walking -- and enforcing safe driving -- with the limited funding they'll have next year.

Lt. Cox says they're also looking at ways to use traffic stops as a gateway to preventing a wider range of crimes -- and at making sure police know what ethical misconduct in their own ranks looks like on the road.

The highway safety conference runs through Thursday at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

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