The safest time to drive is during the daylight and in good weather. It is encouraged that you find the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn arrows, and easy parking. You should also plan your route before you drive and share your plan with others. The following are some tips for being a safer driver, both on and off the road.
On the Road
Move into an intersection only when you have checked the area for pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and any other hazards
Don't allow other drivers to pressure you into sudden moves
Leave a large following distance behind the car in front of you
Drive at the posted speed limit. If you must drive more slowly, stay in the right lane
Always signal before turning. Cancel your turn signal if it does not shut off automatically after a turn
Keep eyes moving to scan the roadway from shoulder to shoulder to avoid highway hypnosis
Drive with low beams during the day, especially on two-lane roads
In the Car
Limit conversation while driving
Keep the radio volume low
Do not talk on your cell phone or text
Avoid eating while driving
Discourage smoking. Smoke in the vehicle aggravates breathing problems and leaves a film on your windshield that may interfere with your visibility
Put on your headlights and seat belt, even for quick trips
If your car does not have an automatic reminder to fasten seat belts, leave yourself a note on the dashboard or sun visor
If your seat belt is extremely uncomfortable or cannot be fastened properly, take it to a competent mechanic for alterations. Many cars have adjustable shoulder belt mounts or you can buy devices that improve the fit
Adjust your mirrors and seats for a comfortable fit. For more information, please reference the Your Vehicle pages
Out of the Car
Clean your headlights, taillights, windshield and rear window inside and outside
Clean your wiper blades with a paper towel dipped in windshield washer fluid to remove grime and oxidized rubber from the edge of the blade (helps prevent streaking)
Check your tire pressure at least once a month, and always before a long trip
Ask that your oil, transmission and coolant levels, as well as fluids and all engine belts, be checks when you have your oil changed
Exercise regularly to increase strength and flexibility
Consider a defensive driving or driver improvement course
Map out a safe route to grocery stores, malls, doctors' office, and other common destinations, and practice driving it with a friend or family member (See "Trip Planning" below)
Plan a route that only uses right turns if left-handed turns are too difficult to maneuver
Think about potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or using public transit
Be honest with yourself. If you are a danger on the road, take responsibility and either improve your skills or stop driving
On longer trips
Take a break after every 90 minutes of driving
Have a beverage or a snack, walk around, and move your arms
Keeps you alert, improves circulation, and helps prevent stiffness and fatigue
A roadway "Roundabout" is a circular intersection that moves traffic counterclockwise around a central island without the aid of traffic signals. They help decrease vehicle emissions and fuel use, manage traffic congestion, reduce vehicle speeds, and improve safety.
Slow down and prepare to yield as you approach the roundabout
On the approach, you must be in the right lane (if it has more than one lane)
You must yield to the traffic already in the roundabout and coming from your left
Stay to the right as you approach your turn
Place your right turn signal on until you have exited the roundabout
Delaware's "Move Over" Law In Delaware alone, dozens of state and local police officers have been injured or killed by passing motorists while they were working outside of their vehicles conducting traffic stops. That is why Delaware enacted a Move Over Law in 2007 to protect emergency workers on our roadways. These emergency workers include law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, ambulances, firefighters, fire police, park rangers and Dept. of Transportation personnel. The law says that any driver approaching an authorized emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing and is stopped on a roadway having two or more lanes in the same direction will either:
Safely "move over" into a lane that is not next to the emergency vehicle, or
Reduce the vehicle's speed to a "safe speed" while passing the emergency vehicle if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe
Violators of this law may be fined $25.00 plus court costs.
Ultimately, this law will also serve to protect drivers who are stopped for traffic violations, have broken down on the road, or have been injured in a crash. Breakdowns can be dangerous for everyone involved if other drivers are not paying attention. So remember, it could be you on the side of the roadway.
Delaware Bans Cell Phone and Hand-Held Electronic Device Use While Driving
On January 2, 2011, Delaware will ban texting while driving and ban the use of hand-held cell phones. This means a hands-free device will be required to talk on a cell phone while driving.
Drivers are permitted to dial a phone number or activate/deactivate their wireless equipment, and then they must put the device down.
The law also bans the use of pagers, PDAs, BlackBerry devices, laptops, games or portable computers, and two-way communication devices while driving.
Drivers cannot browse wirelessly or read, write or send messages while driving.
It is a primary offense and a civil penalty. No points are assessed.
The fine for the first offense is $50.00 and subsequent penalties are between $100 and $200 dollars.
Law enforcement, firefighter, EMS technician, or other operators of authorized emergency vehicles in the performance of their official duties
Anyone reporting an emergency
Exempts a person driving or operating a farm tractor, non-registered farm truck or farm equipment
HAM radio operators
Business or government employees who use a two-way radio mounted or attached to a motor vehicle to communicate with a central dispatch, base of operation or with other employees (ie: utility companies and DelDOT)
National research shows that drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury.
Be On The Lookout For The New HAWK Traffic Signal!
HAWK stands for High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk. One problem for engineers has been the safety of pedestrians who cross the road at "uncontrolled" locations, those with-out traffic signals or stop signs in-stalled. Some research has even shown that just installing striped crosswalks on high-volume, high-speed roadways may even decrease safety for pedestrians who cross. The HAWK signal is the latest tool that will be utilized in Delaware to combat this problem.