In an effort to save lives and prevent injuries on Santa Monica streets, the police department will conduct several special traffic enforcement operations over the next 12 months, with funding coming from a $159,403 grant awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Special operations include driver’s license/sobriety checkpoints, motorcycle safety details and crosswalk and red light stings.

“The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant will assist in efforts to deal with traffic safety problems and reduce the number of persons killed and injured in traffic collisions,” said Capt. Hector Cavazos.

Traffic deaths from all causes declined in 2009 in California by 10.3 percent from 3,434 killed in 2008 to 3,081 in 2009. The state recorded 950 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009, a 7.6 percent decline from 1,025 in 2008. However, DUI deaths remain at 31 percent of fatalities.

“Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). “But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on the efforts to encourage and enforce traffic safety. Thousands are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways.”

For a second year in a row, there will be several special motorcycle safety enforcement operations. Motorcycle fatalities have dropped in California, following a decade rise in deaths. In 2009, 393 motorcyclists were killed, a 29 percent drop from 2008 statistics. However, California remains one of three states that still leads the nation in motorcyclist deaths.

“More people are making it home safely and alive each day,” said Murphy. “But to keep this trend going, we will continue to strive to meet our vision — toward zero deaths, every one counts.”

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