SACRAMENTO — In an effort to improve traffic safety across California, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) announced the approval of 26 federally-funded traffic safety grant applications totaling $8.6 million to greater Sacramento area communities. The grants will help combat alcohol and drug-impaired driving, encourage seat belt and child safety seat usage, discourage distracted driving and enhance police traffic services.
“Traffic safety is at a crossroads,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. “Roadway deaths dropped 37 percent from 2006 to 2010, but we have seen a slight upturn since. The programs funded by these grants are aimed squarely at holding the line, and even reversing it once again.”
In addition to the Sacramento region grants, OTS announced the award of 244 other traffic safety grants across California, totaling $87 million statewide.
A recent OTS survey showed that 14 percent of drivers on a Friday or Saturday night have at least one potentially driving impairing drug in their system, not including alcohol. New grants will see an expansion in the number of special prosecutors dedicated to alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases, procurement of state-of-the-art crime lab testing equipment, more drug detection training for law enforcement to increase case filings and successful prosecutions of alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases.
Alcohol-impaired driving still makes up nearly 30 percent of roadway fatalities, prompting OTS to fund multiple and varied programs to tackle its many causes and consequences. These grants will help reduce fatalities and injuries by supporting high visibility enforcement such as more than 2000 DUI checkpoints and programs cracking down on drivers with outstanding warrants.
New grants will also expand the number of local special prosecutors dedicated to alcohol and drug impaired driving cases and fund new lab testing equipment and drug detection training to increase successful prosecution of alcohol and drug impaired driving cases.
Several key grants will also seek to improve active transportation in California by combating recent increases in serious pedestrian and bicycle crashes. The Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System will be expanded to include older adults, distracted walkers and victims of speeding. Free expert technical assistance and staff training in pedestrian and bicycle safety will be offered by the University of California to local communities. Grants will also support the California Active Transportation Safety Information Pages, a Website that encourages and promotes safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized road users in California.
Following are selected examples of local organizations scheduled to receive grant funds:
· Intensive Probation Supervision for High-Risk Felony and Repeat DUI Offenders for Placer, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.
· Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecution Programs for Sacramento, San Joaquin, Calaveras and El Dorado counties.
· Enhanced Identification of Impairing Substances in Sacramento County aimed at better identifying and prosecuting driving under the influence of drugs cases.
Descriptions of all the individual grants for the Sacramento region can be found at ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Press_Room/2013/doc/FFY2014_Grant_list_by_region.pdf.