The Sacramento Police Department has been awarded a new traffic safety grant for a year-long DUI program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on our roadways. The grant, awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), totals $500,000 to continue and expand a comprehensive DUI education program and media campaign in the Sacramento region.
The DUI education program will be in collaboration with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, UC Davis Medical School and local non-profit Teachable Moment Foundation. The new program expands a DUI intervention study conducted at the Sacramento Main Jail to include first-time offenders. Clinicians will provide a brief screening, education, and intervention to DUI offenders. First-time DUI offenders will be asked to participate in an assessment of their drinking and driving behavior prior to their release from jail. The assessments address the behavior of DUI drivers that contribute to their life-threatening actions. The goal of the program is to determine whether brief interventions and follow-up assessments can change the dangerous behavior of impaired drivers and reduce the rate of DUI recidivism.
In addition to interventions, the grant will fund a DUI media campaign to target the highest DUI offender group, young adults between 18 and 34 years old. Alcohol-related traffic collisions remain the single greatest cause of death among youths and young adults. The likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash increases with higher blood alcohol content levels.
Of the thirteen largest cities in California, the City of Sacramento has consistently had the highest rate of fatal and injury collisions based on population and average number of vehicle miles driven. Drunk driving remains one of America's deadliest crimes. In 2009, over 10,839 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Last year in California, 950 people died in alcohol impaired crashes, a 7.6 percent reduction in deaths from 2008.
"Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures," said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "But as encouraging as this is, we can't let up on the efforts to promote and enforce traffic safety. Far too many are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways."
The program is funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.