The Santa Monica City Council has accepted a $250,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to operate a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) with the goal of reducing collision-related deaths and injuries in the city.

The Santa Monica Police Department was able to secure the grant as a result of its efforts to “reduce the number of deaths and injuries in alcohol-involved crashes,” the department says.

The grant will be used to operate a one-year Selective Traffic Enforcement Program conducted on an overtime basis, says Chris Cochran, marketing and public affairs manager for the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTC).

“It’s really an all-inclusive traffic and safety grant,” said Cochran. “Its main reason is to reduce people killed and injured in traffic collisions.”

The program will use “best practice” strategies designed to earn media attention, which the department hopes will enhance the “overall deterrent effect” in the effort to curb driving under the influence, speeding, running red lights and street racing, among other things.

The program is necessary to enhance the police department’s efforts to address and reduce further incidences of injury and fatal collisions, department officials said.

Also, the police department wants to improve its position in the California Office of Traffic Safety rankings, department officials say.

The rankings are statistical ratios of various aspects of traffic safety that show how well the city’s efforts are at keeping down death and injuries in traffic collisions, compared to other cities of similar size, Cochran said.

For the 100 cities in California with a population of 50,000 to 100,000, Santa Monica ranks the tenth-worst in total fatalities and injuries from traffic collisions.

In 2005, 750 people were killed or injured in a collision in Santa Monica.

“So it shows, as far as total fatalities and injuries, they do need help,” Cochran says, noting that the grant may help the city. “They are in the not terrible but not good range for totals.”

Sixty-nine people were killed or injured in alcohol-involved collisions.

“Santa Monica has the 14th highest rate of victims killed and injured in collisions overall in that particular population range,” Cochran said. “It means they’ve got work to do.”

In California there were 532,725 traffic collisions in 2005 — one reported every 59 seconds.

In these collisions, 3,822 people were killed and 198,708 were injured, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.

One person was killed every two hours and two minutes and one person was injured every two minutes as a result of a traffic collision.

Some of the programs to be implemented include checkpoints and saturation patrols for DUI (driving under the influence) enforcement; red light, intersection, speed and street racing equipment operations; standardized field sobriety training for police officers and allied agencies; and street racing equipment inspection training for the city’s police officers.

The grant will also be used to purchase specialized equipment including mobile citation devices and software, additional preliminary alcohol screening devices for DUI enforcement and laser devices for speed enforcement.

The grant funds are expected to be received October 1st.

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