The Santa Monica Police Department has been awarded two traffic safety grants totaling $143,200 for programs aimed at preventing deaths and injuries in the city by the sea, authorities announced Thursday.

The grants were awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

SMPD Capt. Carolin Larson said one grant for $43,200 will enable the police department to arrest people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and provide education to the community through DUI/driver’s license checkpoints.

Drunk and drugged driving is among America’s deadliest crimes. In 2010, 791 people were killed and over 24,000 injured in alcohol and drug-impaired crashes in California, police said.

Crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of 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, police said.

“DUI checkpoints have been an essential part of the phenomenal reduction in DUI deaths that we witnessed from 2006 to 2010 in California,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “But since the tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one third of traffic fatalities, Santa Monica needs the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that this grant will provide.”

Lt. Jay Trisler said the second grant for $100,000 will be used to pay for specialized DUI and drugged driving training, DUI saturation patrols and an increased focus on motorcycle safety, distracted driving enforcement and those caught speeding or running red lights.

Funding for both grants ultimately came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For more information call Sgt. Philbo Rubish at the Traffic Enforcement Unit, (310) 458-8950.

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