$87 million in federal grants to improve safety in Golden State

As it readies to become the state's new Transportation Agency July 1, the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency has approved $87 million in federally funded traffic safety grants administered by the California Office of Traffic Safety. Some 274 projects statewide will receive the funding, which is aimed at combating alcohol and drug impaired driving, encouraging seat belt and child safety seat usage, fighting distracted driving and enhancing law enforcement activities. “Traffic safety is at a crossroads,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “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.” Nearly 30-percent of all roadway fatalities is due to alcohol impairment, the agency reported. Thus, it has sought to fund programs that work to reduce fatalities and injuries. Those programs include more than 2,000 DUI checkpoints and cracking down on drivers with outstanding warrants. Besides working with police agencies statewide, the grant money also will help expand the number of local special prosecutors dedicated to alcohol and drug impaired driving cases. The money also will fund new lab testing equipment and drug detection training to increase successful prosecution of alcohol and drug impaired driving cases. On a typical Friday or Saturday night, 14 percent of drivers have at least one potentially driving impaired drug in their system, not including alcohol, a study by the agency revealed. Some other programs to receive grant funding include:
  • Department of Motor Vehicles -- research substance abuse, fatal crashes and distracted driving;
  • California Department of Public Health -- webinars to increase booster seat use and provide National Child Passenger Safety Technician certification courses;
  • “It’s Up to All of Us” expansion -- a California Department of Public Health pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign;
  • California Highway Patrol -- distracted driving enforcement and public education campaigns;
  • Drugged driver detection training for law enforcement-- specialized by the CHP;
  • “Every 15 Minutes” -- CHP’s high-school assembly program and sober graduation events; and
  • University of California -- research grants to study motorcycle safety, seat belt usage and pedestrian and bicycle safety.
The grant program begins on October 1, 2013. For more information on the grant program, visit http://www.ots.ca.gov/.
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