Delaware pedestrian deaths on the rise

    Officials say pedestrians — and motorists — need to pay closer attention to their surroundings and learn the rules of the road.

    It’s been a very dangerous year for those trying to walk on or near Delaware roadways, according to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

    So far this year, 16 pedestrians have died in traffic-related crashes in Delaware. That is three times higher than this time last year.

    The initial reaction to those figures, says OHS Community Relations Officer Alison Kirk, is “we need to keep reminding pedestrians and motorists to look out for each other.”

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    Seventy-five percent of the pedestrian fatalities this year occurred in New Castle County, with most happening on or around the areas of Route 7 and Route 13 in low light or dark conditions. Two fatalities occurred in Kent County and two in Sussex County.

    Statistics show the pedestrian was at fault in almost every case. Alcohol was a factor in two cases while the most common violation was the pedestrian stepping out into the path of a vehicle and not using a crosswalk or marked intersection.

    OHS officials are also concerned with the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by pedestrians. They say that inattentiveness to their surroundings is extremely dangerous.

    “Just like the new law that’s going to go into effect on Jan. 2 to put down your cell phone while you’re driving, maybe you need to put it down while you’re walking as well,” Kirk said.

    Officials say pedestrians need to be aware of the following safety tips and laws:

    * Cross only at crosswalks or intersections with signals or traffic signs, and cross only when it’s clear.

    * Use sidewalks. If there’s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far off the edge of the road as possible.

    * Carry a flashlight or other reflective item when walking at night. It’s the law.

    * Do not walk under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired walking is illegal.

    * If your vehicle breaks down on an interstate or busy roadway, don’t leave your vehicle. Instead call #77 or 911 for assistance. Motorists can also call #77 to report a disabled vehicle they see on the roadways.

    * If you are driving, be on the lookout for pedestrians near the roadway.

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