Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Police Department has been awarded a new traffic safety grant for a year-long program aimed at preventing unnecessary deaths and injuries on our roadways. The $2,000,000 grant awarded by the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will aid in the City’s ongoing effort to improve traffic safety and the quality of life. Sobriety checkpoint trailers, speed enforcement traffic laser devices and special traffic enforcement measures will be instituted by the LAPD as part of an on-going commitment to keep our roadways safe through both enforcement and education.
“The LAPD is very fortunate to be the recipient of a grant that will undoubtedly save lives by reducing fatal and injury traffic collisions,” said Lieutenant Ron Katona, Traffic Coordination Section. “Every time we arrest a driver who is under the influence, we are taking a potential killer off of the street.”
The grant will complement existing Department strategies to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of community members killed and/or 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 factor accounting for more than 30 percent of all traffic fatalities.
The grant will allow increased enforcement for motorcycle safety, DUI offenders, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, red light running and speeding. The enforcement activities will be achieved through the use of sobriety/driver’s license checkpoints, DUI saturation patrols, court stings where DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver licenses get behind the wheel after leaving court, motorcycle safety details, red-light and speed enforcement details.
“Thanks to the dedicated hard work of agencies like the LAPD, 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.”
Sobriety/Driver’s 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.
This grant also provides drug impairment training provided by the California Highway Patrol to help combat the increasing problem of drivers under the influence of legal and illegal substances. The training will fund 100 officers to receive specialized training to detect impaired drivers under the influence of legal and illegal drugs. This training will enable on-the-spot assessment of drivers suspected of drug impairment.
For a third year in a row, 12 special motorcycle safety enforcement operations will be conducted with the overall goal of reducing motorcycle-related traffic collisions. 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.
Los Angeles police officers 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 someday 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. If you have questions regarding this grant, please contact Officer Don Inman at 213-486-0703.