Delaware has an average of more than 506 residents living in every square mile, which greatly exceeds the national average of 93 residents per square mile. Delaware also had 417,700 registered private and commercial vehicles plus 27,810 motorcycles registered for use on state roadways, With so many residents and lots of people per mile, a car accident is a common occurrence. The following advice can help local motorists prevent accidents from happening.
Be Wary of Road Glare and Changing Conditions
Road conditions often change rapidly at dawn and dusk. Temperatures drop at night, which can cause bridges and overpasses to freeze over first, followed by other stretches of roadway whenever there has been precipitation. If the daytime temperatures warmed enough to melt snow during the day, that snowmelt could turn into slick ice at dusk if the temperature drops below freezing.
Dawn transitions often make seeing the roadway more difficult with changing light conditions. Straining to see the road clearly can make drivers more fatigued and prone to errors. Sun glare is at its worst during the dawn and dusk hours and especially when refracting off dirt and grime on a dirty windshield.
Drivers need to keep windows clean and make sure their vehicles have good wiper blades and plenty of wiper fluid to keep windows clear and not cause glare when the sun or oncoming headlights refract on a dirty and grimy surface.
Two great tools for ensuring drivers can see should be well within arm’s reach while driving. Those are the window visor and a pair of good sunglasses with polarized lenses. The window visor can help to block the sun when it is low in the sky and sending blinding light into drivers’ eyes. Polarized sunglasses can help to shield the eyes from bright sunlight while also reducing the effects of sun glare.
The headlights also help to make vehicles more visible to oncoming traffic. Using them on dim will help to make a vehicle much more visible from a much greater distance. Bright lights also can help to increase visibility, but drivers should switch to dims when other vehicles approach. Fortunately, many vehicles have auto-dimming headlights that take care of that potential problem.
Learn How to Use Safety Technology
Modern vehicles come equipped with a wide range of standard and available driver assistance technologies that greatly improve safety. A combination of digital video cameras and radar sensors make it possible for vehicles to provide drivers with up to 360 degrees of roadway sensing to detect any potential threats and initiate corrective measures before the driver can do so.
Items such as blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, rearview cameras, and onboard monitors help to see where drivers cannot. Rear cross-traffic alerts can help to prevent backing into traffic or a pedestrian. Adaptive cruise control with distance monitoring and automated emergency braking can help to prevent potentially devastating accidents.
Watch Out for Pedestrians
Unfortunately, Delaware ranks among the most dangerous states for pedestrians despite not having a single major city respectively listed among the most dangerous locations for pedestrians. Nationally, pedestrian deaths rose from 4,699 reported in 2007 to 5,984 reported in 2017, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports.
Dusk and dawn are especially dangerous times for pedestrians and especially school-age children walking to the bus stop. Drivers must look out for pedestrians and obey posted speed limits to give people who are walking, riding bikes and skateboards, and using other popular foot transportation devices safe. Also, whenever school buses are stopped with lights flashing and the stop sign out, motorists must stop a safe distance and ensure any children who get off the bus can safely cross the street.
Leave the Cellphone Alone
Distracted driving ranks among the deadliest of bad driving habits. It also is illegal in virtually every state, including Delaware. Since 2011, state law bans motorists from using hand-held cellphones, tablets, laptop games, or other portable devices while driving. Vehicles that enable drivers to use onboard technology to stream phone calls are allowed.
Motorists also cannot read or respond to text messages, surf the internet, or even obtain directions if it requires the hand-held use of cellphones, laptops, or other mobile devices. Only onboard vehicle systems that provide drivers with navigational assistance or the hands-free use of mobile devices to obtain directions is allowed in Delaware. A first-time Delaware distracted driving offense will cost the driver a $100 fine. Subsequent offenses are fined at least $200 and no more than $300.
Distracted driving is the number-one killer of teen drivers and claimed 3,142 lives on U.S. roadways in 2019, the NHTSA reports. Any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the road is a form of distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. That includes talking or texting on the phone or mobile device, eating and drinking, adjusting onboard systems, and simply talking to others if it causes the driver to take his or her eyes off the road.
The NHTSA says texting is the most dangerous form of distracted driving, owing to the relatively extended period that it causes offending drivers to take their eyes off the road. It also often includes at least one hand off the steering wheel, which is why hand-held use is banned in Delaware.
When a motorist who is driving at 55 mph takes his or her eyes off the road for five seconds, the vehicle will travel about 100 yards. The NHTSA says that is the same as driving the length of a football field with eyes closed. Factor in the deadly speed, and distracted driving turns a passenger vehicle into a potentially deadly missile that generally is out of control while the driver is distracted.
Dangerous Delaware Deer Crossings
Another common danger that affects potentially hundreds of motorists every year in Delaware is deer crossings. Delaware ranks among the most dangerous states for car-deer accidents, and deer commonly move at dusk and dawn.
Whenever driving in more rural areas and especially when water is located on one side of the road and woods on the other, Delaware drivers need to pay especially close attention for signs of deer activity.
Deer generally are most active from about 30 minutes prior to sunup or sundown to about 30 minutes afterward. Deer also tend to move more during the fall months when facing pressure from hunters while fattening up for winter. Deer also move more often during the spring mating season and commonly use crossing areas that connect their habitat and feeding areas.
When woods are on one side of the road, water is on the other, and road signs caution drivers to look out for deer crossing the road, drivers need to be especially wary. It helps to turn on the headlights and scan the sides of the roadway looking for light reflecting off a deer’s eye. Motorists should always drive at the speed limit so they have time to scan the roadsides effectively.
If a deer is in the roadway, expect more to cross. Deer tend to move in small herds rather than singularly. When one or more deer are in the road, they tend to stop and stare at any approaching lights, such as the headlights on a passenger car. Because deer tend to stop and stare at approaching lights, motorists should honk the horn and flash the lights while slowing down to give deer the best chance to get out of the way.
The one thing drivers never should do when a deer is in the road is slam on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes only causes the vehicle to lose traction and control while continuing along its path. The driver might wind up in the way of an oncoming vehicle and make matters far worse than hitting a deer.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLCHelp Injured Victims Recover
Even when motorists obey the speed limits and traffic controls, car accidents are possible. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, the experienced Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are available to assist you. We will help you understand your rights and legal options, as well as figure out the best path forward.Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.