For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Sgt. Mary Kusmiss S-6, Public Information Officer (PIO), (510) 981-5780

CITY OF BERKELEY POLICE TO BEGIN SPECIAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT / EDUCATION PROGRAM

Berkeley, California (Thursday, October 14, 2010) - In a new effort to save lives and prevent injuries on City of Berkeley streets, the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is expanding their regular traffic enforcement with special projects.

These projects are being funded by a $200,000 grant recently awarded to BPD by the California Office of Traffic Safety. (OTS) The funding will support BPD’s ongoing commitment to reducing injury collisions by purchasing new equipment in addition to the special projects that focus on both education and enforcement. Members of BPD Traffic Bureau worked very hard in the highly competitive grant process to secure this funding.

“Being awarded this grant funding means that BPD will be able to increase focus on making our streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists,” said Chief Michael K. Meehan. Chief Meehan went on to say, “We are very committed to reducing injury collisions in the city by ten percent (10%) this year.”
The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant is awarded to agencies to assist in efforts to deal with traffic safety problems and to reduce the number of persons killed or injured in traffic collisions. Traffic deaths from all causes declined in 2009 in California by 10.3 percent from 3,434 killed in 2008 to 3,081 in 2009.

“Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). “But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on our efforts to encourage and enforce traffic safety. Thousands are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways.”

The special project/grant activities will specifically focus on pedestrian safety, bicycle safety and the safety of motorcyclists. This will be accomplished through the use of multiple community engagement events. Officers will engage in open dialogue with community members at high traffic areas to educate pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists alike regarding common misconceptions regarding the laws. The use of special enforcement projects by BPD officers will compliment the educational component with focused enforcement in the areas throughout the City which have a high rate of fatal and or injury collisions.

The grant provides funding for a mobile digital message sign trailer to aid in alerting drivers to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, Light Detection and Ranging devices (Lidar) to aid in speed enforcement of vehicular traffic, as well as traffic safety educational handouts. The grant also provides funding for overtime to conduct special enforcement project activities.

A new edition to the grant this year is Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations. Motorcycle fatalities have finally turned and dropped in California, following a decade rise in deaths. In 2009, 393 motorcyclists were killed, a 29 percent drop from 2008 statistics. Sadly, California remains one of 3 states that still lead the nation in motorcyclist’s deaths.

BPD will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by motorcycles. Officers will be focusing on traffic violations made by motorcyclists, and other vehicle drivers, that result in far too many motorcycle collisions, injuries and deaths.

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