The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is the recipient of $120,000 in grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
“This grant funding will greatly enhance our work with collaborative partners in public safety, schools and community-based groups to promote safe behaviors among all road users in our county,” said Bob Kennedy, public health chief.
The one-year grant will be used to implement a comprehensive traffic safety education program countywide. The goal is to reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians injured or killed, promote the proper use of child safety restraints, including booster seats for elementary school aged children, as well as reduce impaired and distracted driving, with a particular focus on teen drivers and passengers. Impaired driving, which includes being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications, is a growing concern among local law enforcement.
To meet those goals, the agency will:
New hands-free law sound off
- Give helmets and child safety seats to low income families and other residents;
- Provide traffic safety education to school-ages youths and their parents;
- Implement an anti-texting while driving media campaign
- Reach out merchants about providing alcohol to minors;
- Host child safety seat checkup events and other traffic safety outreach in the community; and
- Conduct bicycle, pedestrian, driver and child passenger observation surveys.
“AB1536 is a bad idea,” said Dr. Richard Hencke, Emergency Room physician at Dominican Hospital. Research clearly shows that any ongoing conversation, hands free or not, causes tunnel vision. Your visual field actually gets constricted by a significant degree. Research also shows that any type of ongoing communication while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.
“I have given up my Bluetooth and let my cell take messages while on the road, which I return later,” he said. “It just isn't worth the risk!”