Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has been awarded a new traffic safety grant for a year-long program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on our roadways. The $155, 525 grant awarded by the Office of Traffic Safety to Santa Clarita will aid in the city’s ongoing effort to improve traffic safety and the quality of life. New equipment purchases and special traffic enforcement measures will be instituted by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station as part of an on-going commitment to keep our roadways safe through both enforcement and education.
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. While alcohol impaired deaths saw a sharp decline last year, DUI deaths remain the largest sector, at more than 30 percent of traffic fatalities.
The grant activities will specifically target include Motorcycle Safety, DUI offenders, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, illegal street racing, red light running, speeding, and seatbelt violations. This will be done through the use of DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, special enforcement operations, and court stings where DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver licenses get behind the wheel after leaving court.
Gunner, a 6-year-old Labrador, sniffs suspicious vehicles for his partner, Detective Jonn Eldm, at a local DUI checkpoint. Photo by Elliott Cohen for SCVNews.com
“Thanks to the dedicated hard work of agencies like the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station, California has the fewest traffic fatalities since 1944,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. “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.”
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 (NHTSA), 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.
New this year is the addition of six special motorcycle safety enforcement operations. Motorcycle fatalities have finally 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.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Deputies will be conducting specialized enforcement efforts throughout the next twelve 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,” said Murphy. “We have to stick to that path so that some day we can reach the vision we all share – Toward zero deaths, every 1 counts.”
Funding for this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.