The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) received a $624,000 grant for a year-long program meant to prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries, DUIs and distracted driving, officials announced today.
The grant was awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and will go towards bicycle, pedestrian, motorcycle, seat belt and child safety enforcement along with DUI patrols and checkpoints. LBPD is also increasing awareness for “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze”, stressing that people under the influence of prescription medications or marijuana will be arrested and receive a DUI.
“Our partnership with OTS is of vital importance to our mission of increased city-wide education and enforcement,” Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna said in a statement. “The grant will afford us the opportunity to continue our ongoing efforts to reduce fatalities, improve roadway safety and raise awareness that collisions can often be preventable.”
After reaching a 10-year low in 2010, the number of people killed on the road in California has increased 17 percent with 3,429 deaths in 2015. Pedestrians and cyclists account for nearly 25 percent of these deaths, a trend that has continued to rise nationally over the years, officials said in a release. The number of incidents have also risen with an increasing amount of distractions including cell phone use and drug-impaired driving.
According to data collected by the LBPD over the last decade, there have been at least 444 accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians every year since 2006. In 2012, 627 accidents were reported, 30 of which were fatal.
In Long Beach, so far this year there have been about 13 pedestrian- or bicyclist-related deaths. The most recent incident was reported Thursday evening when a woman riding a skateboard was struck by a vehicle when crossing the street.
“Unsafe behaviors account for 94 percent of traffic crashes,” OTS Director Rhonda Craft said in a statement. “This grant emphasizes the two most effective ways to change behaviors – education and enforcement. The Long Beach Police Department, with assistance from the Office of Traffic Safety, will use these tools to help keep Long Beach streets safe.”
In addition to driving without distractions, authorities say the best way to prevent being involved in an accident is to be aware of your surroundings and stay defensive while walking the streets or behind the wheel. Consider calling a ride home or staying with a friend after a good night of partying.
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