Capitola awarded $53K for traffic safety programs

Capitola has been awarded one of 198 grants being handed out statewide by the California Office of Traffic Safety. The state agency is giving away $67 million in traffic safety grants to help communities and agencies with their long term efforts to further reduce traffic deaths and injuries on the Golden State’s roads, the OTS reported Thursday. Capitola’s share is $53,209, money that will be directed toward its Speed Awareness and Child Safety Seat programs. Two-thirds that total – roughly $35,473 - will be used for speed enforcement, while the remaining sum, $17,736, will buy 96 safety seats for Capitola parents, said Sgt. Matt Eller of the Capitola Police Department. Most of the money will be used for speed enforcement because, “The No. 1 complaint from citizens is traffic and the number one complaint about traffic, besides congestion, is speeders,” Eller said. Speed was the primary factor in 122, or 23.69-percent, of 515 traffic collisions that occurred between 2006 and 2008, he said. Of those, speed was the main cause of 9.86 percent of injury crashes recorded during that time frame, Eller added. “Complaints about speeding come mainly from the residential areas of the city,” he said. “Clares Street between 41st Avenue and Wharf Road has a lot of ‘cut-through’ traffic from Soquel to the Capitola Mall and 41st Avenue area.” Funding for the grants come from federal sources and will be administered by the OTS, which is part of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Other programs the money is being used for around the state include those that address impaired driving, encourage seat belt use, begin a statewide distracted driving campaign, enhance emergency medical response services, promote safety programs for motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and enforce aggressive driving laws, as well as other laws intended to save lives. Currently, the death toll on California’s roads is at a level unseen sine 1950, despite the huge growth in the state’s population and miles driven, according to the OTS. The department attributes the decline in traffic deaths to law enforcement, road engineering, emergency medical services, educations and efforts coordinated by the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. “We have come a long way in California,” said Christopher J. Murphy, OTS director. “Every category of traffic fatality and injury has seen remarkable improvements. These grants will keep that momentum going.”
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