Your Monthly Update
December 2021
New Infrastructure Bill Adds Billions in Funding to Highway Safety Programs
The new infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden last month adds billions of dollars in funding to help reduce traffic crashes and deaths on our roads.

The influx of funding comes as California and the rest of the country have seen a surge in road deaths in the first half of this year, including a rise from April to June not seen during the second quarter of a year in more than four decades.

"This bipartisan infrastructure initiative will not only provide a massive infusion of funding into highway safety, but also make improvements to federal programs to streamline the implementation of life-saving efforts in the states," the Governor's Highway Safety Association said in a statement.

"With the number of traffic fatalities going up, not down, this legislation gives states access to substantially more federal grant funds to stop dangerous driving and improve safety infrastructure."

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides $11 billion in transportation safety programs. The IIJA places an increased emphasis on the "safe system approach," a more holistic idea that humans make mistakes and roadway design should help reduce the impact of those mistakes for not only drivers, but also people who walk and bike.

Previous safety efforts focused on protecting people inside vehicles, such as wearing a seat belt and other safety features that reduce the impact of crashes on drivers or passengers.

"This is a crisis," California Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said. "Getting public buy-in to the benefits of slowing down and protecting other people on the road will help reverse this alarming trend of roadway deaths."
Congress Mandates New Vehicle Technology To Curb Drunk Driving
Congress has moved to technology as another way to prevent drunken people from ever starting the car.

Under the IIJA, monitoring systems to stop intoxicated drivers would be required on all new vehicles as early as 2026, after the U.S. Department of Transportation evaluates the best type of technology to install in millions of new vehicles.

“It’s monumental,” Alex Otte, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told the Associated Press. Otte called the package the “single most important legislation” in MADD's history.

In 1985, 18,125 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes, which made up more than 40% of all deaths that year. Over the last 10 years, around 10,000 people have died in alcohol-related crashes, accounting for nearly a third of all traffic deaths, according to NHTSA, but is indicative of hitting a plateau in the push to reduce drunk driving deaths.

The legislation doesn’t specify the type of technology, only that it must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”

"Despite the clear consequences and dangers, people are still making the poor choice to drive impaired," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "The level of deaths we are seeing is unacceptable and must change with more preventive measures."

The bill also requires automakers to install rear -seat reminders that alert parents if a child is left in the back seat. That mandate could be in effect by 2025 after NHTSA conducts a rulemaking on the issue. Since 1990, more than 1,000 children have died from vehicular heatstroke.
OTS to Host New Anti-DUI Campaign Event at Sacramento's Golden 1 Center
The OTS and Caltrans will release a new anti-DUI video public service announcement (PSA) during a news conference at Sacramento's Golden 1 Center on December 14. Event speakers will include OTS Director Barbara Rooney, NHTSA Region 9 Administrator Chris Murphy, California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim, and California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Director Eric Hirata.

The PSA is part of the new "Don’t Let Drunk/High Drive" campaign encouraging people to make good choices over the holidays and throughout the year.

“We are excited to introduce this new campaign to remind Californians that driving impaired – whether by alcohol, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications – is dangerous but preventable through simple actions,” said Director Rooney.

"Driving while impaired by any substance, legal or illegal, puts you, your loved ones and others in harm’s way," Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.
"When celebrating this holiday season, please celebrate responsibly. Working together, we can help keep everyone safe on our roadways."

Starting December 16 through January 2, 2022, the campaign will feature a series of safety messages statewide on broadcast television, digital platforms including social media and streaming services, and digital billboards. In addition, PSAs will run in select convenience stores, bars, and restaurants, as well as audio versions on radio.

As part of its campaign efforts, the OTS and Caltrans will also launch a new "Go Safely" pledge asking people to pledge to be safe, responsible and always designate a sober driver. Those who sign the pledge will be entered to win several prizes provided courtesy of iHeartMedia.
Report: 40% of San Francisco
traffic deaths were caused
by left-turning drivers
A new report from Vision Zero found that 40% of all traffic deaths in San Francisco were caused when drivers turned left.

"40% of traffic deaths in San Francisco in 2019 were caused when drivers made left turns and didn’t see the person in the crosswalk," the report said.

In all, more than 300 people are injured in the city every year by drivers turning left at intersections and hitting pedestrians using crosswalks, according to data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

As a result of this issue, the city installed vertical delineator posts at seven intersections throughout the city last fall. The city also built small speed bumps at crosswalks and added paint to discourage sharp left turns.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) also developed an education campaign. Called "Safety–It's Your Turn," the campaign encouraged drivers to slow down and make wider turns in three steps: take it slow (5 mph), make it square (90-degree angles) and stay aware (look out for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians).

The design changes appeared to work. The report found a 17% reduction in average car speed and 71% reduction in the chances of a car turning left over 15 miles per hour. The SFMTA, which has a motorcycle safety grant program with the OTS, is planning on making similar changes to nearly three dozen other intersections in the city.

"These pilot programs show that a combination of paint on the street, vertical delineators, and small speed bumps can slow driver speeds and encourage safer left turns for both people in the crosswalks and opposing traffic," the report said.
Newest Video Series Helps Drivers, Bicyclists and Pedestrians ‘Go Safely’
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has launched its newest video series to educate kids, teens, and drivers of all ages about safe practices when riding a bike, walking or driving. The “Did You Know?” series is available now at and aims to reduce injuries and fatalities on roads throughout the state.
Walking and biking are healthy and enjoyable activities. Tragically, these activities are also becoming increasingly dangerous. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that there were 6,721 pedestrian deaths throughout the country, a 4.8% increase from 2019 and 21% increase in the projected fatality rate for pedestrians (2.30 per one billion vehicle miles traveled), the largest ever year-over-year increase. Preliminary data from GHSA estimates there were 1,026 pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles in California alone last year.
“Drivers must be mindful of bicyclists and pedestrians and demonstrate safe behaviors on the road, helping to protect themselves and those around them,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “These videos provide context for drivers of all ages on how they can share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians safely.”

The “Did You Know?” series video topics include:
To watch and share the videos, and to learn about other helpful ways to stay safe on the go, visit
Study: Bicycle Crash Rates Drop During COVID-19
The rate of drivers hitting bicyclists dropped during COVID-19 last year due to changing commuting patterns with riders more likely to use off-road trails than conventional roads, a study released this month found.

Published in the Journal of Transport & Health, researchers analyzed trips on bike lanes and off-road trails in Arlington County, Va., in 2020, and compared bicycle traffic and crash data to prior years.

Researchers found that midday bicycle traffic rose by 76% from March to December 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. These changes were associated with a 28% reduction in the bicycle injury crash rate, the study found.

“Regardless of the effect that fewer (potentially faster-moving) vehicles had on bicycle crashes, it seems likely that Arlington injury crash rates decreased in 2020 because of the greater use of off-road trails,” the report said. “Although many types of facilities can improve rider safety over riding in the road, increased physical separation between riders and motor vehicle traffic reduces opportunities for motor vehicle crashes."
UC Berkeley SafeTREC CSSA Applications Due Dec. 16
Applications are being accepted for the University of California, Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center's (SafeTREC) Complete Streets Safety Assessment (CSSA) program.

Applications will be accepted until Dec. 15. To apply for a CSSA, complete the 2022 CSSA application online and email it to Afsaneh Yavari at

Funded through a grant with the OTS, the CSSA Program helps agencies plan for transportation safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians in their communities.

Here's an inside look at a CSSA conducted in 2019 in Suisun City, Calif.:
Alcoholic Beverage Control's LEAD Program Celebrates 30 Years
ABC's LEAD training program is now going 30 years strong. LEAD stands for Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs. The program provides free voluntary training for alcoholic beverage industry members on serving safely, responsibly, and legally, with an emphasis on preventing sales to minors and people who are obviously intoxicated.

Since the program was created back in 1991 through a grant from the OTS, more than 351,000 people have received the training. An additional 59,000 individuals have registered for an online training, which the ABC started offering in 2018.

“This type of training not only helps businesses better understand their responsibilities but also provides them with the tools and knowledge they need to promote responsible beverage sales and contribute to making communities safer,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata.
2023 OTS Grant Applications
Now Available
The OTS is now accepting applications for the 2023 Federal Fiscal Year.

Applications are due electronically by Jan. 31, 2022.

To apply through out Grants Electronic Management System, visit the OTS website.

In case you missed our virtual application workshop Dec. 7, you may view the recording on the OTS YouTube channel. A slide deck of our presentation is also available here.
The OTS administers traffic safety grants that deliver innovative programs and strives to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries on California roadways. The OTS is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).
Contact the OTS Marketing & Public Affairs Team, 916-708-5128