Cape Gazette

Zombies on patrol in Cape Region

Pedestrian safety checkpoints set for Dewey, Lewes
By Ron MacArthur | Jul 26, 2013
Source: Office of Highway Safety This is the poster used during the current campaign by the state's Office of Highway Safety.

Zombies will be roaming the streets of Dewey Beach and Lewes over the next two weeks, but they are not the flesh-eating kind. They are part of a state campaign to improve pedestrian safety.

Since the start of the year, 13 pedestrians have been killed on Delaware's roads; five of them in Sussex County, all at night. State Office of Highway Safety officials say two pedestrians were walking while impaired, while a third was hit by an impaired driver. Three of the five Sussex deaths occurred along Route 1 in the Cape Region.

During 2012, 30 pedestrians were killed on state roadways, a signficant increase over the 19 pedestrian deaths recorded in 2011.

In response to pedestrian deaths, the Office of Highway Safety, Delaware Department of Transportation and Delaware State Police have joined forces to step up a pedestrian safety program, “Don't Join The Walking Dead,” capitalizing on the name of the hit TV show.


• Cross only at designated crosswalks or intersections with signals or traffic signs. Look left, right and left again before crossing.

• Do not risk crossing a road without a traffic light or crosswalk just because it's more convenient, especially on high-speed roads.

• Use sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic as far to the edge of the roadway as possible.

• It's state law to carry a flashlight or have some type of reflective item when walking at night.

• Impaired walking is like impaired driving; it's illegal and dangerous.

The campaign started as a pilot project in New Castle County over Memorial Day weekend. Officers patrolled high pedestrian crash locations and stopped pedestrians who were not crossing at marked crosswalks, walking a dusk and night without a flashlight or reflective item and walking impaired. The officers provided those pedestrians with safe walking information and a reflective string backpack.

While some people may find the name of the campaign insensitive, Jana Simpler, director of the state Office of Highway Safety, said she has heard no complaints. “It's a way to get our target audience to pay attention to the message. The zombie message resonates with them,” she said. “It's very specific geared toward to tough to reach audience.”

That target group is young people aged 13 to late 20s. “We want to get their attention. We are capitalizing on the interest in the zombie culture,” she said.

The agencies will team up with local partners to provide safety checkpoints, including two in the Cape Region: from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, July 26, at the Starboard in Dewey Beach and from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Citizen's Bank on Second Street in Lewes.

Traffic and safety organizations will be on hand to provide safe walking tips and information, including Beebe Medical Center, Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, Sussex County Paramedics and police departments from Lewes and Dewey Beach.

“This is about education to offer important walking tips to spare lives. It's not an enforcement checkpoint at all,” Simpler said.

The number of pedestrian deaths is higher than at this time last year,” said Alison Kirk, state Office of Highway Safety spokeswoman. “This is particularly alarming because it's only mid-year with the fall season yet to come.”

Kirk said fall is a time when daylight hours get shorter and sun glare becomes an issue creating an increased risk for pedestrian and vehicle crashes.

Task force looking at Route 1

The rise in pedestrian deaths in the Cape Region has also caught the attention of the General Assembly.

Legislators passed House Resolution 22 July 1, just before wrapping up the 147th General Assembly. The resolution, sponsored by Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, creates a task force to study pedestrian safety on Route 1, from the Nassau Bridge in Lewes to the southern limits of Dewey Beach.

The task force will include state, county and municipal legislators and representatives from the Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware State Police, Rehoboth Fire Company and Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Schwartzkopf said the task force would begin by examining the details and circumstances surrounding recent pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. Then, he said, the group can start to come up with possible solutions. The task force will submit recommendations for improvements to engineering, infrastructure, education and lighting by Jan. 31, 2014.


Thousands of pedestrians cross roads and streets in the Cape Region each day during the busy summer season.
Comments (4)
Posted by: Joan Deaver | Jul 26, 2013 08:34

Is Office of Hwy Safety, stay away from using word, "zombies." People were killed on our hwy. not funny.

Posted by: Dana Smith | Jul 26, 2013 16:42

While I think it is important to raise awareness about pedestrian safety I also think this method is in poor taste.  This is not a television show.  The Office of Highway Safety should be ashamed of this terrible, terrible campaign.  People have lost family members and friends.  Shame on you.

Posted by: Barry Wayne Price | Jul 26, 2013 23:40

Someone or somebody at State Level comes up with these very stupid ideas. I have actually attempted to ask about it from the Office of Highway Safety. We have a Christmas tree in our break room at work that has green bulbs. It is called the DUI tree. As people are killed involving drunk driving the lights are changed from green to red. One co-worker lost a family member to DUI, and she is outraged that she is reminded of it daily with this so-called DUI tree. Where, please tell me where is Christmas and death have anything in common? The DUI tree is in the employee breakroom, but not at the bar(s) where the public can see them? Why is that? These insensitive campaigns should be eliminated immediately, and the brainstormers sent packing. I'm also disturbed by another threatening campaign by our police force. There is an outright threat to the public in "Click it or ticket." Casting police officers as anything but public servants is extremely insensitive, and arrogant. There is a recent one about cell phone usage while driving that is equally tiresome. I cannot remember the details of it, but it is also threatening. Do we want to imagine our highway patrol as threatening or as helpful? Get this type of thinking out of State business. That is all.

Posted by: Joan Deaver | Jul 27, 2013 14:30

Michael Goetz is right about council but it's three of them,  not all, who are  responsible for no certified planner and no provision for adequate infrastructure. Send us some new people in Nov. 2014, Two or maybe three seats open then.

If you wish to comment, please login.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.