A 33-year-old Millville resident died Monday from injuries resulting from a morning accident on southbound Route 1 between Dewey and Bethany Beach.
Delaware State Police said that James Beauchamp was driving south at an excessive rate of speed when he lost control of his 2001 Nissan Xterra just before 9 a.m. on Monday. The SUV rolled several times, police said, before coming to rest in the middle of the southbound lanes of the highway just north of the Indian River Inlet Bridge.
Beauchamp was ejected and landed off the right side of the roadway, a state police spokesman said. He later died at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, police said.
“He was driving at an apparent high rate of speed,” said Cpl. Jeff Oldham, a Delaware State Police spokesman. “He was also in and out of traffic, and he just lost control.”
No one else was involved or hurt in the accident, police said. Oldham said that Monday’s accident closed the southbound lanes of Route 1 between the beach resorts from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The accident is still under investigation.
Aggressive driving, such as speeding and frequently changing lanes — as was the case in Monday’s accident, according to the police account — among numerous other examples, has been named as a contributing factor in an average of 43 percent of Delaware’s annual motor vehicle accidents, according to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.
Since July 12, 2004, according to office’s Web site at www.state.de.us/highway, some type of aggressive driving has been listed as a contributing factor in more than 60 percent of Delaware’s fatal motor vehicle accidents.
From Jan. 1 to Nov. 28 of this year, 128 people have died on Delaware’s roads, up slightly from last year. Some 123 died in the same time frame last year. According to the Office of Highway Safety, aggressive drivers usually become frustrated with others on the road and attempt to retaliate by tailgating the other car, cutting it off and “making obscene gestures when passing.”
Drivers who become victims of this type of aggressive behavior while on the road, the office’s Web site reads, should get out of the aggressive driver’s way and “put your pride in the back seat” by not retaliating.
In coordination with state law enforcement officials, the Office of Highway Safety has initiated a “Stop Aggressive Driving” educational and awareness campaign it promotes with billboards, through the media and with advertisements. Other aggressive driving statistics are available at the Web site.
In 1999, the state passed its first anti-aggressive-driving law, with punishments ranging from fines to 30 days imprisonment. Aggressive driving is defined as speeding, failing to yield the right of way, making an unsafe lane change, passing on the shoulder, ignoring a traffic control device, following too closely, or overtaking a stopped school bus, according to the office’s Web site.