August 13, 2008 By Corey McKenna
The federal government has given Virginia more than $13.5 million in grants to support traffic safety programs in the commonwealth. Local, non-profit and state organizations were given the grants to support programs that work to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries in Virginia.
"These grants enable localities, state agencies and non-profit organizations to support programs that address a wide range of transportation safety needs," Gov. Kaine said.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) administers the funds with recommendations from the Board of Transportation Safety.
These programs work toward increasing safety belt and child safety seat usage, deterring impaired and aggressive driving, and promoting awareness of risks for teen and senior drivers.
VAHSO works with safety partners throughout the commonwealth to ensure yearly progress toward the goals of the state's safety grants program.
By establishes measurable objectives, VAHSO is able to evaluate the impact the grant recipients' programs are having and provide quarterly performance feedback. Future funding requests are determined on progress toward performance targets.
"Virginia's safety partners demonstrate their dedication to reducing needless deaths and injuries resulting from traffic crashes," said DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit. "Our goal is to target resources to projects that produce the biggest results in saving lives."
One such safety partner is the Washington Regional Alcohol Program. WRAP, as it is called, operates Checkpoint Strikeforce, a broad-based paid radio and media campaign supported by high visibility sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. Checkpoint Strikeforce works to educate, identify and apprehend drunk drivers.
From October 1, 2007 through June 1, 2008, enforcement activities under the program resulted in 1,116 DUI arrests, 1,229 safety belt citations and 256 child restraint citations. Thirty-six juveniles were cited for underage drinking, and there were 14,655 other arrests, citations and warnings.
Overall, forty-four percent of the $13.5 million in grant money was awarded to localities, 16 percent to non-profit organizations, 33 percent to state agencies and 7 percent to higher education entities.