This photo is from Delaware's latest safety plan to reduce highway fatalities.

Del. ranked 49th in passenger fatalities in car crashes

Ken MammarellaGovernment, Headlines

This photo is from Delaware's latest safety plan to reduce highway fatalities.

This photo is from Delaware’s latest safety plan to reduce highway fatalities.

Delaware ranks 49th – and it’s better to be at the bottom of this list – of the most dangerous states to be a car passenger.

The ranking comes from looking at data on fatal crashes from 2017 to 2021 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, specifically the number of passengers involved in fatal crashes and the number of those who suffered fatal injuries.

Delaware ranked 49th, with a fatality rate of 23.23%, with 82 passengers killed out of 353 involved in fatal crashes.

Nevada ranked 50th, at 20.94%. Hawaii, New Jersey and Florida round out the bottom five.

New England and Midwest states topped the list, and the announcement offered no suggestions why.

In the news: DelDOT has no plans to end its humorous road signs

Vermont reported the highest fatality rate (38.67%), followed by New Hampshire, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa and Maine.

Fatalities stats

In 2022, Delaware tallied a record 165 lives lost on the roads.

In 2020, Delaware announced five-year Strategic Highway Safety Plan that was subtitled “toward zero deaths.” A 2005 federal act requires such plan to get full federal funding.

The plan emphasizes eight areas: intersections, distracted driving, roadway departure, pedestrians, motorcycles, unrestrained motorists, speeding and traffic records. The eight areas account for 94% of fatalities. Seven of the eight were the most prominent factors in 2015-19 crashes, with intersections by far the worst.

Roadway departures occur when the car leaves the roadway and hits something else, like a tree.

Unrestrained motorists are those not using seatbelts or carseats.

In the news: Distracted driving added to list on improving highway safety

Delaware State Police maintains a newsroom archive of fatal crashes.

Nationwide, during 2017-21, more than 32,000 passengers were killed in crashes, with a fatality rate of 26.42%. “The data not only reflects the tragic loss of life but also serves as reminder of the importance of driving with care and caution, whether you’re in the car by yourself, or with passengers,” said Matthew Pfau, partner at H&P Law, credited with compiling the data.

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