PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — The Santa Monica Police Department was awarded two grants totaling $185,000 to help make the roadways safer through DUI checkpoints and special enforcement actions, including targeting reckless motorcyclists and drivers texting or talking on cellphones.

A Santa Monica police officer directs traffic during a DUI checkpoint along Pacific Coast Highway. (File photo)

A Santa Monica police officer directs traffic during a DUI checkpoint along Pacific Coast Highway. (File photo)

A $140,000 grant comes from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on the roadways through special enforcement and public awareness efforts, according to a news release.

While traffic deaths from all causes declined by nearly 39 percent between 2006 and 2010 in California, they rose by 2.6 percent in 2011. State and federal officials anticipate that figures will show another rise for 2012, law enforcement officials said.

DUI deaths remain the largest sector, at nearly 30 percent of traffic fatalities. Recent trends show increases in two new categories — distracted driving and drug-impaired driving, officials said.

Activities that the grant will fund include:

• Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as standardized field sobriety testing, advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement, and drug recognition evaluator;

• DUI saturation patrols;

• Motorcycle safety enforcement operations;

• Distracted driving enforcement operations.

Another $45,000 grant will help fund DUI checkpoints.

In 2011, 774 people were killed and over 24,000 injured in alcohol and drug-impaired crashes in California, officials said.

Crashes involving alcohol have been shown to drop by up to 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough. Checkpoints have proven to be the most effective of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent and are supported by nearly 90 percent of California drivers, police said.

kevinh@smdp.com
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