Wednesday to announce new initiatives to reduce deaths and injuries on Delaware’s roads.
The package includes multiple legislative proposals that seek to do the following:
Curb Reckless Driving: The bill would establish any speeding violation of 90 miles per hour or more as a Reckless Driving offense. Speeding was a contributor to 26 fatal crashes in Delaware from 2020 – 2022.
Prohibit Open Containers of Alcohol in Most Vehicles: Open container legislation, which will be introduced by State Rep. Tim Dukes and House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, would ban open containers in passenger vehicles. The legislation would not affect buses, taxis, limousines, or the living quarters of motor homes or trailers. Uber and Lyft rules do not allow open containers in their vehicles already. Delaware is one of just five states that has not prohibited open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle. Alcohol was a factor in 26% of Delaware’s fatal crashes in 2021.
“For too long, Delaware has been behind the curve on this very important public safety issue,” Rep. Dukes said. “Prohibiting passengers from having an open container in the vehicle they are riding in is another way to protect the motoring public at large. If it dissuades even one person from engaging in reckless or drunken driving, then we’ve accomplished our goal.”
PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS: I am proud to join my colleague – Rep. Valerie Maglio Longhurst – in announcing a bill that we are sponsoring to help make our Delaware roads safer for the motoring public.
I am proud to again sponsor legislation that will ban an open container in a vehicle. Please check out this brief video of the remarks I made this morning at the Smyrna Rest Area’s Memorial Garden. The open container bill is one of five public safety measures announced today to help make our roads safer.
My comment included in the Governor’s press release on the open container bill: “For too long, Delaware has been behind the curve on this very important public safety issue. Prohibiting passengers from having an open container in the vehicle they are riding in is another way to protect the motoring public at large. Whether you are the driver of a vehicle or the passenger, with this new bill, we are saying that it is against the law to have an open container of alcohol in the car. If it dissuades even one person from engaging in reckless or drunken driving, then we’ve accomplished our goal of protecting our roadways.”
|Expand “Move-Over” Protections: This proposed law would require drivers to change lanes or reduce their speed while approaching any stationary vehicle on the shoulder or in the roadway displaying warning signals. Currently, Delaware’s move-over law only applies to emergency vehicles or tow trucks. In 2022, 13 people were killed in Delaware in or near stopped vehicles.|
Require New Motorcycle Riders to Wear a Helmet: Graduated motorcycle helmet legislation will be introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola and Reps. Sean Lynn & Danny Short. It would require all riders to wear a helmet in their first two years of having a motorcycle endorsement. It would also extend the graduated helmet requirements to mopeds and tripeds. Delaware Department of Transportation data shows that 25% of severe injury and fatal accidents occurred among Delaware licensed motorcycle riders within their first two years of obtaining a license. Over the last five years, there have been 35 deaths and 143 serious injuries among motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets. “I’ve been on the scene of many motorcycle accidents, and I’ve repeatedly witnessed the benefits of wearing a helmet,” Rep. Short said. “My bill requires new riders to wear helmets for the first two years after getting their endorsement. These riders are at the greatest risk of a mishap, and this law will help protect them when they are at their most vulnerable.”
Strengthen Child Safety Seat Requirements: This proposed law would require children under two years of age or less than 30 pounds to be in a rear-facing seat with a 5-point harness. Those under four years old and less than 40 pounds would need to be in a front- or rear-facing seat with a 5-point harness. From age 4 to 16, using a booster to the maximum height and weight limits would be required. Enforcement would only take place after a year-long awareness campaign. The bill would refine Delaware’s present child safety seat statute, which only requires an “appropriate” car seat or booster.
Enable Green Lights on Snow Plows to Increase Visibility: Legislation to allow state-owned and operated snow plows to use a revolving or flashing green light is the last part of the traffic safety bill package. Green lights are better seen in snowy conditions than white or amber lights due to the increased contrast and have been adopted for use on snow plows elsewhere, including Michigan and Ohio.
Additional information about the legislative package can be found at de.gov/trafficsafety
The Carney administration has also pledged to take additional steps to improve road safety, including increased law enforcement and piloting a new “wrong way” driver notification system.
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