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Governor Kaine Announces $17 Million in Highway Safety Grants

September 2, 2009 | Virginia News

News Image Decline in fatalities attributed to grant-funded programs

RICHMOND–Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced the award of more than $17 million in federal grants to support traffic safety programs in Virginia. Grant recipients include local, non-profit and state organizations that strive to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries on the Commonwealth's roadways. "Though traffic fatalities in Virginia are down over last year, we are still experiencing an unacceptably high number of preventable deaths on our roadways," Governor Kaine said. "These programs are proving successful at reducing our highway fatalities and encouraging safe driving habits, and I am happy they will be getting federal support." The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) Virginia Highway Safety Office works with safety partners throughout the Commonwealth to ensure yearly progress toward the goals of the state's safety grants program. Traffic safety programs receiving grant funds work toward:
  • increasing safety belt and child safety seat usage
  • deterring impaired and aggressive driving
  • lowering motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities
  • promoting awareness of risks for teen and senior drivers
Grant-funded enforcement efforts such as "Operation Air, Land and Speed," "Click It or Ticket," and "Checkpoint Strikeforce" have contributed to the recent reduction in traffic deaths and increase in seat belt use in Virginia. As of July 31, 2009 preliminary data indicates there were 68 (13.8 percent) fewer traffic fatalities in Virginia compared to this same time period last year. Traffic fatalities for 2008 (821) were the lowest since 1966. An Old Dominion University survey of nearly 24,000 vehicle occupants revealed the Virginia seat belt use rate as 82.27 percent, the highest rate ever. "While this is certainly good news on one level, there's no such thing as an 'acceptable' number of traffic deaths, except zero," said D.B. Smit, DMV Commissioner and the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "We cannot become complacent. We must not lose sight of the fact that according to the latest data, a crash occurs on our roadways every 4.3 minutes resulting in more than two lives being lost and 184 people being injured every day in Virginia." Thirty percent of the $17 million in federal grants was awarded to localities, 21 percent to non-profit organizations, 44 percent to state agencies and 5 percent to higher education entities. For a complete list of grant recipients, please visit: http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/safety/grants/2010_grant_awards.pdf