Madera police announced two traffic safety grants, totaling more than $133,000, aimed at preventing DUI accidents and improving driver safety.
The grants come in the shadow of some bad news: trends showing that deaths caused by distracted driving and drug-impaired driving nationwide are on the rise, according to the most recent data from 2011, officials said. Nearly 30% of traffic fatalities are caused by a DUI driver.
In 2011, 24 people were injured in accidents caused by alcohol or drug-impaired driving, police said. Statewide that year, 774 were killed and more than 24,000 injured in DUI crashes.
The new grants, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, award Madera more than $40,000 for an anti-DUI program, and $93,000 for a year-long program aimed at preventing vehicle accidents through special enforcement and public awareness.
"Since the tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one third of traffic fatalities, Madera needs the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that this grant will provide," said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the traffic safety office.
Murphy said the grants will enable officers to increase efforts to crack down on DUI drivers through enforcement, checkpoints, increased patrolling and operations targeting the "worst of the worst" repeat DUI drivers. The grants also fund other efforts, including seat belt and child safety enforcement, driver safety education, cracking down on distracted drivers and motorcycle safety.
"Traffic safety is at a crossroads," Murphy said. "Roadway deaths dropped 37% from 2006 to 2010, but we have seen a slight upturn since. The programs funded by these grants are aimed squarely at holding the line, and even reversing it once again."
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