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Delaware Headlines

Delaware steps up efforts to prevent pedestrian accidents

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Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media
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Pedestrian deaths are up this year on Delaware roadways and the state’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is embarking on a campaign to slow that trend.

The First State has already seen 30 pedestrian deaths to date in 2015. That’s up from 27 in all of 2014.

And statistics show pedestrian accidents increase this time of year, so OHS is teaming up with Delaware State Police and others to redouble their efforts to educate people how these accidents can be avoided.

Dr. Kevin Bradley is the associate medical director for Christiana Care's Trauma Program.  He says he’s seen first hand how much damage pedestrian accidents can do.

" As an experienced trauma surgeon, I have cared for many people first-hand who were struck by vehicles. Even people who get struck by vehicles traveling at a low rate of speed can suffer significant injuries, including even death," said Dr. Bradley.  "And I can assure you that nearly all of these incidents are preventable.”

OHS says these accidents can be avoided by using crosswalks, carrying a flashlight or wear reflective clothing if walking at night, and using sidewalks whenever possible.

The Delaware State Police is going a step further with its program targeting a section of the Route 13 and 40 corridor where many of these accidents occur.  

State Police are a week into the first phase, stopping people violating pedestrian rules between 3 pm and 9 pm, warning them, and handing out information and small flashlights.   State Police superintendent Col. Nate McQueen says in the first 7 days they’ve stopped 67 people.

“The pedestrian crash rates across the state have been concerning for some time, despite all the efforts of our public safety partners.  It is our hope that by focusing our education and enforcement on this 3.5 mile section of roadway we can reduce the upward trend in pedestrian crashes," said Col. McQueen.

The education phase continues next week and will be followed by a one week targeted enforcement period when they hand out citations instead of warnings and information.

OHS Director Jana Simpler says these efforts to reduce pedestrian accidents will continue for the remainder of the year and beyond.

They come on the heels of Gov. Jack Markell using an executive order last month to create the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness.

That group will identify gaps in pedestrian paths and sidewalks, design new spaces to best accommodate those with disabilities and review traffic rules with regard to safety for those on foot.

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