Delaware Office of Highway Safety Announces Occupant Protection and Distracted Driving Enforcement Effort
January 17, 2024
Delaware Sees Highest Seatbelt Usage Rate Ever
Dover, Del. (January 17, 2024) — The Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is reminding drivers and passengers to buckle up every trip, every time, and to avoid distractions behind the wheel. OHS is working alongside state and local law enforcement with the Occupant Protection and Distracted Driving high visibility enforcement effort which runs from January 15 – February 12. Even with the decrease in fatalities from 2023 compared to 2022, there are still improvements to be made to increase highway safety and to keep working toward achieving the goal of zero deaths on Delaware roadways.
In 2023, Delaware saw the highest seatbelt usage rate ever at 93.9 percent. Seatbelt usage rates remained steady at around 92 percent in the past five-year average. Despite this increase in usage, there were still 42 people killed and 279 injured last year who were not buckled during a crash. OHS continues to encourage drivers and passengers to make buckling up a habit and a priority when getting into a motor vehicle.
“Although seatbelt usage is at an all-time high, there are still too many fatalities on Delaware roads due to lack of restraint during a crash,” said Sharon Bryson, Director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. “By simply buckling up, lives can be saved. Always ensure that you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts, eliminate any distractions, and stay alert while driving.”
Distracted driving remains one of the primary causes of a crash in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 32,657 people died in distraction-affected crashes over the ten-year period from 2012 to 2021. It can take approximately 4.6 seconds to read a text message – at 55 mph, that is the equivalent of traveling the length of an entire football field, blind.
In addition to increased patrols, OHS wants to remind everyone of the updated car seat law which will go into effect June 30, 2024. Occupant protection is important for drivers and passengers of all ages and sizes. See the link to read about the law and find contact information to have your car seat(s) checked by a Certified Car Seat Technician for free: https://ohs.delaware.gov/carseat.shtml
If you would like to receive updated brochures and educational materials on the car seat law in Delaware, please contact our office at DSHS_OHS@Delaware.gov.
We want to educate drivers and passengers on the dangers of being unbuckled and offer tips to avoid distracted driving:
Consequences of not wearing a seat belt:
- Not buckling up can result in being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash, which is almost always deadly.
- Airbags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not properly buckled up.
- Improperly wearing a seat belt, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your passengers at risk in a crash.
Guidelines to buckle up safely:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
- Be an example: children whose caregivers buckle up are much more likely to buckle up themselves.
- During these cold winter days, remember to take heavy coats off before buckling up. This rule goes for children and adults. The bulkiness of the coat creates slack between your body and the seatbelt or harness which increases your chance of injury during a crash.
Tips on how to avoid distractions while driving:
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” setting on your cell phone. If you are not familiar with this function, here is a video to show you how to use it for iPhone, Android, and Pixel: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xM8kgWAygJk&feature=youtu.be
- Put your phone away in the trunk, glove box, or backseat of your vehicle so you are not tempted to look at it.
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
For more information on the campaign, statistics, and education visit www.arrivealivede.com/buckle-up/
About the Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues, such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, aging and teen driving issues. FAQs can be found at ArriveAliveDE.com. Follow OHS on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.