The first bill in Gov. John Carney’s Roadway Safety Initiative has made its way through the House Public Safety & Homeland Security committee.
House Bill 92, sponsored by Rep. Bill Carson, D-Smyrna, would add stopped cars with their hazard lights to the list of vehicles for which drivers would need to either change lanes and slow down or just slow down if changing lanes is impossible.
That list already includes emergency vehicles, Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks that are flashing their lights.
Several people spoke in favor of the bill, including Sgt. Mike Ripple with the Delaware State Police; Nicole Majeski, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation; and Jana Tidwell, AAA public and government affairs manager.
No one spoke against the bill.
Rep. Kendra Johnson, D-Bear, a member of the House committee, said that she appreciates the legislation because she had a friend who died after her car was rear-ended while the friend was stopped on the side of the road.
The bill passed with five votes in favor and one on its merits. On its merits means the voter thought the issue should be explored but did not want to go on the record supporting it.
Carney announced March 29 that six bills would address road safety, including reckless driving, open containers, motorcycle helmets, child car seats, snow plows and cars by the side of the road.
Carson’s bill is the only one filed in the legislature so far. Carney’s office said the child safety seat bill is expected Tuesday, with others following this week or during the upcoming two-week break.
Here’s what they are expected to do:
- The reckless driving bill would add an additional fine and possible jail time for driving over 90 miles per hour;
- The open container bill would ban open containers of alcohol in passenger vehicles;
- The motorcycle helmet bill would require riders to wear a helmet during their first two years on the road;
- The car seat bill would require more stringent safety seats for children 4 and under, and booster seats for children ages 4 and up to the maximum height and weight limits;
- The snow plow bill would require the state to add revolving green safety lights to its plows.
Carney said he hopes the measures will help reduce injuries and fatalities related to the road.
According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety as of March 29 there have been 31 traffic fatalities in the state, compared to 40 at the same time in 2022.
In 2022, there were 165 traffic fatalities, the most deaths in a year since at least 2005, compared to 139 deaths in 2021, 117 in 2020, 133 in 2019, and 110 in 2018.
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