OFF THE WIRE
http://novato.patch.com/announcements/police-awarded-130500-grant-for-traffic-safety-training-and-enforcement Police Awarded $130,500 Grant for Traffic Safety Training and Enforcement Posted
The Novato Police Department has been awarded a traffic safety grant for a year-long program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on local roadways, according to a department release.
The $130,500 grant awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety will aid in the city’s ongoing effort to improve traffic safety and the quality of life, the release said. The police department will be able to buy new equipment and implement special traffic enforcement measures as part of an ongoing commitment to keep roadways safe through enforcement and education.
“This grant provides our department with the opportunity to enhance traffic safety throughout our community,” Chief Joseph Kreins said. “... Our department has demonstrated significant success with past grant allocations and we are appreciative that the California Office of Traffic Safety has taken note of our success and is willing to invest in our future efforts to provide traffic safety programs in Novato.”
The grant includes funding for:
• DUI saturation patrols
• DUI checkpoints
• Red light enforcement operations
• Speed enforcement operations
• Other traffic enforcement operations that will focus on reducing vehicle crashes, traffic-related deaths and injuries
• Enhanced traffic education for the public
• Enhanced training opportunities for police officers
The grant will assist in efforts to deal with traffic safety problems and to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in traffic collisions. Traffic deaths from all causes declined in California by 11.9 percent, from 3,081 killed in 2009 to 2,715 in 2010. Alcohol-impaired deaths saw a sharp decline last year, but DUI deaths remain the largest sector, at more than 30 percent of traffic fatalities.
The grant-funded activities will target reducing all vehicular injury collisions, including those caused by drugs or alcohol, speeding, hit-and-runs and the running of red lights. More seatbelt enforcement will be done as well.
OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy said California has had its fewest traffic fatalities since 1944. “While this is good news, we know that only by keeping the pressure on through enforcement and public awareness can we hope to sustain these declines and save lives,” he said.
DUI/Drivers License Checkpoints are a key component of the grant. These highly visible, widely publicized events are meant to deter impaired driving, not to increase arrests. Research shows that crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent.
The grant awarded to Novato PD also provides drug impairment training to combat the increasing problem of drivers under the influence of legal and illegal substances. Grant funding will allow 16 officers to receive specialized training to detect impaired drivers under the influence of legal and illegal drugs. The training will provide on-the-spot assessment of drivers suspected of drug impairment.
New this year is the addition of two special motorcycle safety enforcement operations. Motorcycle fatalities have dropped in California following a decade long rise in deaths. In 2010, 353 motorcyclists were killed, a 37 percent drop from the all time high for California in 2008.
Novato officers will conduct specialized enforcement efforts throughout the next 12 months. Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas and events where motorcycle crashes and incidents have occurred. Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by regular vehicle drivers and motorcyclists that result in far too many motorcycle collisions, injuries and deaths.
“We are on the right path with declining fatalities,” Murphy said. “We have to stick to that path so that some day we can reach the vision we all share: Toward zero deaths, every one counts.”