This state is the second smallest having only 1,954 square miles of land on the Delmarva Peninsula. Perhaps not surprisingly given its size, it has only 925,749 people which ranks it 45th in terms of population. But it catches up in the ranking tables because these people have decided to huddle together. This makes the state the 7th most densely populated with 442 people per square mile. Curiously, Delaware is one of only five US states that do not have a city containing more than 100,000 people. When it comes to population, this US state is somewhat like New Zealand which has rather more sheep than people living in this island paradise (for Hobbits, anyway). Delaware has more companies living in the state than people. In fact, more than 50% of all the publicly traded companies are registered in this tax-friendly state.
It’s also appropriate to comment on the name. The state decided to honor English nobleman, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, who was the first colonial governor for Virginia. That name has led to some humor, in part derived from the rather notorious song which begins by asking what did Della wear, and answering that she wore a brand new jersey. Yes, it’s that type of song.
The state is a slightly unusual shape, being essentially a strip of land along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. It’s 96 miles long but the width varies from 9 to 35 miles. To add to the unique quality, the border with Pennsylvania is called the Twelve-Mile Circle, being an arc drawn on a map using the courthouse in New Castle as the center. Over the years, this gave rise to disputes with neighboring states as to who owned which bits depending on whether the tide was high or low, and other variables. The closeness to the sea also helps keep the state’s climate relatively benign but, with the state more than 100 miles long, there can be big differences between the weather in the north and south.
Because of its importance to corporate life and banking, Delaware is the 9th most affluent US state with its citizens enjoying significantly higher than average rates of pay. In part, this explains the extent of the road infrastructure with 5,779 miles of public roads and 824 bridges. There’s only 41 miles of interstate, 100 miles of inland waterway, and 246 miles of railroad. With less than a million people, vehicle ownership is relatively low with 400,000 cars and 217,000 light trucks. That’s exactly two-thirds of a vehicle per person. With only 2,000 buses registered, public transport is not highly favored. With greater wealth, there are 47,000 boats registered. Putting this together, 90% of the population commute using private transport, 3% use public transport, 4% use a bicycle or walk, and 3% work at home. Curiously, the monied class in this state continues the tradition of driving trucks. The most popular vehicle is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Given the dominance of Ford, this vote for Chevrolet shows an independence in the market. The basic design for the Silverado was completed in 2007. A new design is being launched in 2014. Reverting to conventional cars for the second and third most popular vehicles, we have the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.
Changes in the law for 2014
The most important is for the holders of a commercial driver’s license. As of January 30, all CDL holders with actual or potential medical conditions must have submitted a federal medical certificate. If they failed to meet that deadline, their licenses were downgraded to noncommercial. There are bills proposed to:
• ban Google Glass and comparable wearable or handheld computer technology that may distract drivers;
• limit car insurance companies in their use of data they obtain from pay-as-you-drive technology;
• introduce greater flexibility into the registration of farm vehicles;
• change the law on registration and for dealerships in recreational vehicle;
• generally redefine the commercial learner permits and driver’s licenses.
Digital Driver’s Licenses
Further down the road, Delaware is hoping to make a transition to a digital driver’s license, which would take the form of an app for one’s phone. Given the state’s small size, the rationale is that this convenient new approach to accessing one’s license would be easier to implement in Delaware than in a more populated state. There are concerns, however, about how a digital license would be received in another state that has not yet made the change, and is not equipped to scan the license. There is also the issue of lost or stolen phones, and the threat of one’s driver’s license being utilized for identity theft. Safeguards would need to be implemented to protect the public from technological vulnerability. Still, with enough protective measures built in and sufficient public awareness, the concept of digital driver’s licenses is expected to become widely accepted before too long.
Driving in Delaware
To get into the state, you are only two hours from Washington DC and New York with Philadelphia and Baltimore Washington International Airports less than an hour’s drive. For a more exotic way to arrive, you can ride the Cape May Lewes Ferry from New Jersey. Amtrak also stops in four places. Although the state lacks mountain scenery, the coastal strip does offer big views and beautiful scenery with some twenty miles of sandy beaches and small towns offering plenty to see and do. The majority of the shoreline falls within the state’s national parks, ensuring your enjoyment is not over-commercialized. That said, there can be tailbacks going into some of the beach resort town during the high season. Be prepared for delays during the summer. To avoid the crowds, travel in the low season or drive early in the day when the birds are out on the shores.
Do You Know that…
1. The state is named after English nobleman, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, who was the first colonial governor for Virginia.
2. The state is has a unique arc of a circle as its border with Pennsylvania.
3. The most popular vehicle for people to buy is the Chevrolet Silverado.
4. . The state has a bill before the legislature to ban the use of Google Glass while driving.
5. At 15/30/10, the state has one of the lowest mandatory minimum amounts for liability car insurance cover.
6. Delaware has one of the toughest laws in America preventing car insurance companies from basing rates on your credit score.
7.Parents or a sponsor approved by the DMV are jointly responsible for meeting claims when teen drivers cause loss or damage.
8. The Delaware State Bar Association does not run a matching service for people seeking legal representation.
9. The courts do not require evidence your driving was affected. The conviction follows proof you were over the BAC limit.
10. Sixteen year old drivers with a BAC of more than 0.02 must do at least forty hours of community service.