comply with that simple and quite reasonable rule of the road is
symptomatic of what longtime residents recognize as a massive
deterioration over the past several years in the performance of
those who travel on the state's highways.
Literally every time
one ventures out, they are certain to experience speeding,
tailgating, improper passing, lane jumping and a host of other
violations -- either as a witness or a perpetrator. Those are so
commonplace that aggressive driving and the use of an obscene
gesture to signal that the driver knows
care about having made a dangerous maneuver are the
subjects of commonplace humor.
But there is nothing
funny about it.
according to Delaware State Police, 145 people died on state
roads and streets; 8,895 were injured. In all, there were 21,019
A bit of
perspective: On average, there was one murder every 12 days --
one highway fatality every 2½ days. There was one violent crime
every 94 minutes -- one traffic injury every 59 minutes.
It doesn't take much
insight to imagine the public outcry and the demand for
immediate and drastic
lights are typically taken as a signal to 'step on
it' to get through the intersection or complete a
response if the
state's criminals were as destructive of human life and
physical wellbeing as are its drivers.
If there is hope of
finding sanctuary in stereotyping, it's miniscule. To be sure,
visitors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland have
contributed, but four out of every five drivers involved in
an 'accident' last
year lived in Delaware. That was one in every 23 Delaware-licnesed
drivers. Just under 3% of the vehicles involved were large
trucks; 69% were cars. A quarter of the drivers were under age
25; 6.5% were 65 or older. Female drivers, who make up 51% of
the state's 591,800 licensed drivers, accounted for 36.5% of its
contributing factors most frequently listed by investigating
officers were inattention to driving, 24.4%; failure to yield
right-of-way, 10.7%; following too closely, 8.9%; and speeding,
State, county and
local police agencies made 119,724 traffic arrests, including
those which involved just the issuance of citations. That is
roughly one for every 5½ collisions. About a third of the
violations were speeding; 58% were 'dangerous' moving
violations; and only 3% involved driving under the influence of
alcohol or other drug. Anyone will tell you the ratio would be virtually miniscule were 'near misses' and
collision-potential incidents included.
ignored signs along Delaware highways are those
defining the speed limit. Both drivers and law
enforce have generally allowed 10 m.p.h. and that
seems to be increasing.
The Motor Vehicle
Division of Delaware Department of Transportation recently added
to its Web site samples of tests allegedly designed to measure
driving competence. A typical example of the multiple-choice
In case anyone
thinks the for-real thing has to be tougher than the sample,
don't bet your lunch money on it. A Brandywine Hundred resident
recently renewed his driver licensee on the eve of his 70th
birthday. The entire process consisted of reading one line of an
eye chart, posing for a new photograph and paying $1.50. He was
handed the new license and dismissed with a cheery, "See you
again in five years." It would not be unreasonable to think
that, by now, he should have had five biannual road tests and
should now be expecting them every year.
obviously would not put up with that if the secretary of
transportation so decreed and they are not about to enact a law
which would require both elder drivers and teenaged novices to
RULES OF THE ROAD
|What it said
||When you come to a
STOP sign, you must make a complete
hesitation followed by a 'rolling stop' is
something of a norm, especially in suburban
|Right turns on
red are permissible after a full stop,
except when prohibited by a posted sign or a
steady red arrow is displayed. Left turns on red
are permissible after a full stop from a one-way
||At most, there
may be a brief hesitation; usually not even that
if 'the coast is clear'
least 300 feet and, preferably, three
seconds before making a move
Seldom used for lane change and frequently as
the move is being made or after it has been
dashed white line between lanes of traffic means
that you may cross it to change lanes if is safe
to do so. A solid white line means that you
should stay in your lane.
particularly at intersections and when merging
onto a highway, is common.
Headlights (not parking lights) are
After sunset and before sunrise;
Any time you cannot see beyond 1,000
Anya time you use your windshield
|Failure to comply
with this law is probably the most common 'rules
of the road' voilation.
left lane is intended for use in passing slower
vehicles. It is legal in Delaware (but not all
states) to pass a left-turning vehicle on the
right, but that is dangerous and should be done
only with extreme caution.
drive in the passing lane and pass in the
||Pedestrians have the
right-of-way in most instances. Drivers
must yield to them. Pedestrians should
cross only at crossroads or
attitude when behind the wheel is that 'I'm
bigger than you, so look out'.
SOURCE: Delaware Drivers Manual
SOURCE: Delafoum observation
be tested. Only in
the final hours of its just-ended session did the General
Assembly agree to allow Delaware to become the 50th and last
state to adopt the federal blood-alcohol standard for measuring
drunken driving -- and, truth be told, only under a threat of
losing federal highway dollars.
A few years ago,
lawmakers rejected a proposal to have Delaware join major states
like New York and other jurisdictions in banning drivers from
making cellular telephone calls. They did so even though the
proposed law was watered down to include just hand-held devices.
approved the use of cameras to enforce stop-light law at
identified dangerous major intersections, steps to employ
existing electronic imaging technology for more widespread
enforcement of traffic laws can be regarded as lying well in the