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VIEWPOINT: Everyone Gets Home Act will reduce Delaware’s pedestrian fatalities

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Bike Delaware

After years of discussion and negotiations and 368 days after the legislation was first introduced in 2023, the 152nd Delaware General Assembly (Delaware’s state legislature) just passed the Everyone Gets Home Act, the State’s first-ever anti-“stroad” law.

The Journey to Law

Representative Ed Osienski of Newark first introduced HB 247 in June of 2023. Important business interests objected to several provisions of the bill in March of 2024, which ultimately resulted in significant changes. But the modified and revised Everyone Gets Home Act – now designated “House Substitute 1 for House Bill 247 with Senate Amendment 1” (a mouthful that gives a hint at how difficult and complicated the negotiations were) – ultimately won unanimous support from both the Delaware Senate (on June 25) and Delaware House (on June 26).

The Importance of the Everyone Gets Home Act: Highway Driveways

The Everyone Gets Home Act is the first-ever legislative effort to deal with Delaware’s stroads. If you live in Delaware and you went shopping this week, or had a dentist appointment, or dropped off your kids at school, or drove just about anywhere, there is a fairly high likelihood you had the regrettable experience of driving on one of our stroads (aka high-speed, usually suburban, highways with lots of driveways). Stroads evolved out of decades of piecemeal decisions by county and State officials responding to commercial development. Over those decades we’ve gotten used to them and we now mostly take them for granted but they are not convenient, pleasant, or safe. In fact, mile-for-mile, they are easily the deadliest parts of Delaware’s transportation system and where most of Delaware’s pedestrian fatalities happen.

The Everyone Gets Home Act clarifies DelDOT’s authority to acquire property rights in order to create new interconnections between commercial properties on stroads so that driveways can be consolidated and closed. It also – and this is a subtle but important point – protects property owners in case it’s ever the case that creating those interconnections causes any kind of problem for the property owner with a county government.

And Roadway Departures Too

Just the stroad piece of the Everyone Gets Home Act would arguably make it the most important traffic safety legislation ever adopted in Delaware. But the stroad provisions in the bill are also accompanied by additional language for addressing Delaware’s extremely serious problem of (mostly rural) single vehicle roadway departure crashes, which is one of the other major categories of fatal crashes in Delaware. The Act lays out clear authority for DelDOT to use a huge array of “Safe Systems” countermeasures – including roadway reconfigurations, narrowing travel lanes, edge line striping, raised medians, pinch points, chicanes, speed humps, speed tables, roundabouts, traffic circles, traffic diverters and signals modifications – in order to calm traffic on rural roads (to 35 mph or less) and reduce fatal roadway departure crashes.

Representative Osienski and Senator Hansen

Representative Osienski and Senator Hansen were the prime sponsors of the Everyone Gets Home Act in the Delaware House of Representatives and Delaware Senate, respectively. Without their tenacious support and credibility during the complicated negotiations with multiple stakeholders, House Substitute 1 for House Bill 247 with Senate Amendment 1 would not now be on its way to Governor Carney’s desk.

Moving Forward

Literally years in the making, we believe the Everyone Gets Home Act will help solve Delaware’s deepening road safety crisis (the state tied its all-time record for traffic fatalities in 2022) and (if aggressively implemented) enable the State to meet its ambitious traffic safety goal of reducing annual traffic fatalities to less than 60 by 2035. To achieve the 2035 goal, DelDOT will have to aggressively use its authority to make the system improvements that the Everyone Gets Home Act enables.

Stand with Us

As part of our ongoing Everyone Gets Home campaign, Bike Delaware advocates for ambitious safety improvements that benefit every Delawarean. If you are as unhappy with Delaware’s deadly, stressful and expensive transportation status quo as we are, we ask for your support of this ongoing advocacy. We have a track record of effectiveness and we can build on that to make big system changes that will save the lives of our families and friends … with your help.

Bike Delaware Executive Director James Wilson

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