SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department was awarded a $300,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a yearlong program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. According to a press release Canyon News received from Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the SMPD will utilize the funds as part of the city’s ongoing promise to keep roadways safe and improve the quality of life through both enforcement and education.
“We are thankful for the continued support from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Our partnership has been instrumental towards promoting safety and mobility in Santa Monica,” said Interim Chief Kenneth Semko. “The grant will assist the department in performing a variety of traffic enforcement campaigns; improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety.”
In 2010, the number of individuals killed on roadways saw a 10-year low, but rose to nearly 17 percent across the state in 2015 with over 3,429 fatalities. There has been a rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities that result in close to 25 percent of all traffic deaths, including the increasing dangers of distracting technologies and the emergence of drug-impaired driving. Grant funding will provide opportunities to fight these and other problems such as speeding and crashes at intersections.
“Unsafe behaviors account for 94 percent of traffic crashes,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “This grant emphasizes the two most effective ways to change behaviors – education and enforcement. The Santa Monica Police Department, with assistance from the Office of Traffic Safety, will use these tools to help keep the Santa Monica streets safe.”
Activities that the grant will fund include:
· Educational presentations
· DUI checkpoints
· DUI saturation patrols
· Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement
· Motorcycle safety enforcement
· Distracted driving enforcement
· Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
· Speed, red light, and stop sign enforcement
Alcohol remains the biggest offender for DUI crashes, and the SMPD supports the new effort from OTS that aims to drive awareness that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription medications and marijuana are impairments while driving, and combined with alcohol, and can lead to a DUI arrest. Funding for this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.