The Dover Police Department is putting its foot down on pedestrian and distracted driving violations.
Traffic accidents in Delaware related to distracted driving and pedestrians who aren’t using designated crosswalks continue to increase, so starting next week, the Dover Police Department will make an active effort to enforce the law.
“The goal of the campaign is to help change the dangerous behaviors we are seeing by drivers and pedestrians, and making the roadways safer for all who use them by vehicle or on foot,” said Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the police department, in an email statement.
As part of the Walk Smart, Drive Smart campaign between April 11th and April 22nd police officers will focus on these violations throughout Dover when not responding to calls for service or conducting proactive criminal policing. Special units, like its motorcycle unit, will also concentrate on these violations.
In 2013 there were 146 crashes in Delaware attributed to distracted driving, 54 of them causing injuries and three fatal, according to the Dover Police Department. Through last week there were 109 crashes with 56 injuries, the department said.
Pedestrian fatalities also make up about 30 percent of all road fatalities combined, according to Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety. In 2015 there were 35 fatalities—up from 2014’s total of 27.
Talking and texting on a cell phone while driving has been illegal since 2011. However, Dover Police say drivers continue to do so—despite several campaigns, advertisements and enforcement efforts in the past.
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, a person who uses a hand-held device while driving is three times more likely to get in an accident. The institute also reports that when a driver is texting, their eyes are off the road about five seconds—enough time to cover the length of a football field at 55 mph.
Pedestrians sometimes ignore laws or may take unnecessary risks while walking. Data received by the DOHS shows that most pedestrian accidents in Delaware occurred when pedestrians weren’t using a crosswalk, and a large percentage of the pedestrians were intoxicated.
“We know we’re not going to completely stop the issue—we’re certainly not naive to that fact,” Hoffman said. “By showing that we take these dangerous activities seriously, we hope people will know not to do them in our city and will spread the word to other drivers as well.”