Delaware saw 165 deaths on the roads last year, the most in three decades. After increased enforcement efforts and a public awareness campaign, Delaware's Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is trying a new tactic: community engagement.
OHS is hosting town hall meetings in each of the three counties, with each county having specific topics according to that county's data. The timing of the meetings coincides with a surge in crashes and fatalities seen in the state last year around this time.
“There was a significant uptick that occurred in the fall,” said OHS Director Sharon Bryson. “When you project that across the trend line, what we believe is that if we continue doing what we’re currently doing and seeing the number of crashes that we’re currently seeing, we will reach last year’s number and potentially higher. So we’ve got to do something now.”
The first meeting in Sussex County focused on specific causes contributing to fatalities in southern Delaware, including a large number of pedestrians, speed, and driving under the influence.
“We really want to hear from the community, you know this community, in a way that we can’t possibly know it and understand what people in the community think would be helpful in terms of changing the behavior,” she said. “They may come back and say your social media campaigns are great. But you need to do more in-person events or the in-person events aren’t helpful.”
Additional sessions are scheduled for next week in both Kent and New Castle counties. OHS is also offering residents the chance to provide feedback online.