New Year, Same Mission
January 2021
A Message from
OTS Director, Barbara Rooney

Dear OTS Grantees,

As we all breathe a collective sigh of relief with a new year, 2020 is going to be a year we will never forget.

Challenging, unprecedented, and even heartbreaking. It’s hard to describe 2020 in one word after we have gone through so much, and as our country grapples with a global pandemic.

Through it all, we've made it to 2021. It's a new year. We have stayed committed to our mission and worked collectively to navigate an unforeseen path successfully. I am so proud of all of our partners and the OTS team. Thank you for all you have done to adapt and pivot our core safety programs.

So here's to 2021. To staying the course while emerging with a renewed sense of care for one another. I hope you all found some joy this holiday season, and are ready to kick off the new year with meaningful actions that will keep communities safe.

All the best and go safely,

Barbara Rooney
OTS Director
NHTSA: Drunk Driving Deaths Reach
Lowest Level Since 1982
Alcohol-impaired driving deaths reached the lowest point in the U.S. since 1982, according to recently released data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

There were 36,096 traffic deaths in 2019, down 2% from 36,935 deaths in 2018, despite an increase in vehicles miles traveled.

The annual 2019 traffic fatality data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) showed additional declines in pedestrian, bicyclist and passenger deaths.

California was part of the nationwide trend, and saw a 5% decrease in fatalities (3,606) in 2019 compared to 2018.

However, the fatality data from last year comes after reported increases in risky driving behaviors in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent increase in the fatality rate during the first half of 2020.

According to NHTSA, 16,650 people died on roads from January through June 2020, a 2% drop from the same period in 2019, but traffic volume also dropped much more. As a result, more people died per mile traveled during the first half of 2020, 1.25 per 100 million miles, the highest rate since 2008.

"It is encouraging and promising news any time there are fewer lives lost on our roads," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "But we remain cautiously optimistic while we continue to work on moving the needle in the right direction."

One possible cause for the spike in the fatality rate is that open roads may have tempted speeders, leading to more severe crashes, NHTSA noted.

Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, California Highway Patrol officers issued 4,851 citations for speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour, a 93% increase when compared to the same period last year. 

NHTSA also released a special supplementary report for the first half of 2020 on monthly traffic deaths and fatality rates, which showed a projected increase in the number of deaths occurring in rural areas, among younger people 16 to 24 years old, as well as passengers in older vehicles that were at least 10 years old.

"2020 is hopefully an anomaly, but it's important that we practice what is tried and true, embrace technology as a tool to reduce injuries and deaths, and establish a culture that values safe driving," Director Rooney said.
2020: An Unprecedented Year
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the OTS grantees adapted programs to meet ever-changing public health directives. These are a few highlights from many innovative programs that adapted to deliver grant activities during the pandemic.
Butte & San Luis Obispo County Public Health Departments
The Butte and San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Public Health Department's Child Passenger Safety Programs remained active. Butte County switched their efforts from parent classes to one-on-one fitting appointments using personal protective equipment and maintaining safety protocols. SLO County conducted virtual car seat checks, partnering with local hospital providers to offer services to patients and families in need, ultimately exceeding their grant goals for child safety seat distribution and inspections.
Modesto Police Department
The Modesto Police Department was able to stay within public health directives and guidelines and conduct outreach to the community related to bicycle and pedestrian safety. The department distributed hundreds of bike helmets to those in need, along with other safety equipment and informational materials. MPD received a “Contributor of the Year” award from Safe Kids Stanislaus for their continuous involvement with the organization.Two of the department’s community service
officers also received awards for “Most Spirited” and
“Rookie of the Year.”
CA Department of Alcoholic
Beverage Control (ABC)
The ABC adopted a new strategy to prevent those underaged from gaining access to alcohol through online purchases and deliveries.

A new regulation approved Dec. 3, 2020 by the California Office of Administrative Law authorized an enforcement mechanism addressing retail alcoholic beverage delivery for people under 21 that is consumed away from a licensed premise.

The ABC developed the 3rd party Delivery Decoy Requirements through the emergency regulatory process and they have now been made permanent.

Previously, ABC regulations did not include minor decoy operations related to the off-site purchases of alcoholic beverages from a licensed premise.

The ABC updated and clarified language from the emergency regulatory action.

The updated Delivery Decoy regulations led to a significant drop in the violation rate for youth access to alcohol from about 75% to around 20%.
Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
SCAG developed a framework for "resilient streets," which examines ways to use street space for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

This was designed to help communities identify funding sources for transportation projects,
community engagement strategies, and incorporating the "Kit of Parts," which are used to set up temporary infrastructure improvements such as curb extensions, high-visibility crosswalks and pedestrian islands.

In addition, SCAG partnered with Metro and dublab on a radio series focused on transit. Titled,"Deep Routes," the series highlighted areas across Los Angeles near rail projects under construction and their musical histories, all from a camera mounted on a Metro bike! The effort was a way to promote riding a bike and using public transportation.
2021: New Year, New Laws
The new year brings new laws on the books for 2021, including changes to the state's "move over" law for emergency vehicles, liability protections when rescuing children from hot cars, and license points for distracted driving violations.

AB 2717 exempts a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle to rescue a child under the age of 6 who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation or other dangerous circumstances. Previously, exemptions to civil and criminal liability only specified forcibly entering a vehicle to rescue a stranded animal from a hot or cold vehicle.

AB 47 takes effect July 1, 2021, and allows the DMV to add a penalty point to a driver's record if they receive two tickets in a 36-month span for talking or texting while driving without a hands-free device. The law also applies to any use of an electronic device while driving by a person under 18 years of age, hands-free or not.

AB 2285, among other things, includes provisions of the "Move Over" law currently in place on freeways to also apply to local streets and roads. Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights, including tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, must now move to another lane when possible or slow to a reasonable speed on all roadways, not just freeways

AB3234 would create a court-initiated misdemeanor diversion program, and authorize a judge to offer the diversion program over the objection of a prosecuting attorney. In a signing message, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was "concerned that the crime of driving under the influence was not excluded from the misdemeanor diversion program," and will work with the Legislature in the next legislative session to "expeditiously remedy this issue."
The new provisions to the AB 2285 "Move Over" law come after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced findings from their review of the effectiveness of current laws.

Among the report findings, state officials cited raising public awareness of the law and its specific requirements, as well as data on crashes involving "Mover Over" law violations, as the biggest challenges. The NHTSA is proposing updates to data that encourage states to include Move Over Law violations on crash report forms, and will also convene a pilot project to study data improvements.

The federal government provides funding for public education campaigns, and the OTS has provided funding over the years for "Move Over" campaigns. The campaigns feature the children of Caltrans workers, encouraging drivers to think of the employees' families when they see them working along highways.
ABC, OTS Directors Participate in Panel With SADD on Status of
College Age Impaired Driving
OTS Director Barbara Rooney and ABC Director Eric Hirata joined the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to discuss the status of impaired driving among college-age students.

The virtual panel coincided with the release of a new national report from SADD highlighting the increased risk of college students driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The report found that alcohol and drug use on college campuses has increased in recent years. Most notably, there was a dramatic increase in 18-to-24-year-olds who admitted to consuming drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both before driving.

"If nobody drove impaired, we could save about a third of the people killed in crashes every year," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "We're all doing our part to inform about the consequences of impaired driving, and to just simply try to drive behavior change so that people make the right choices and do not drink and drive or take drugs and drive."

The data from the report came from interviews with college students nationwide, which asked them about their perceptions of impaired driving. The report, which NHTSA provided funding for, found that students perceive the risk to drive impaired, especially drugged driving and marijuana use, to be low.

“This report shows the need to continue efforts to reduce underage drinking and do everything possible to prevent impaired driving,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata.

“Impaired driving is the silent health public crises of our time,” said Rick Birt, President and CEO of SADD. “While we’ve made progress, our National Report shows the remarkable work still left to be done with young adults ages 18-24.”
Who Would You "Slow the Fast Down" For? Winners Selected in Drawing for Anti-Speeding Campaign
A few lucky winners told the OTS who they "slow the fast down" for and will receive a pair of Apple Airpods provided courtesy of iHeartMedia.

Twenty winners were selected randomly Dec. 18, and highlighted our anti-speeding campaign efforts encouraging people to slow down.

"I would Slow the Fast Down for my kids and my mother who are with me 80% of the time, and the other 20% for myself because I know they are at home waiting for me to get back home," Ana Gonzalez said.

"I would Slow the Fast Down for my bank account and other people," Reyna Paredes said.

"I would slow the fast down for my pups, Nacho and Taki!" Lidia Ruby Ayala said.

Dennis Martinez said he would slow the fast down for "pedestrians, cyclists and those with disabilities," while Troy Cooper said he would do it for his "fellow humans."

To see the rest of the winning entries, visit

"Speeding remains a top traffic safety issue," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "We are glad to see many people recognize the dangers and take protective actions by slowing down and following the speed limit."
Kings, OTS Team Up to
Educate Fans on Ways to "Go Safely"
The OTS and Sacramento Kings started the third year of their partnership, kicking off the new NBA season with a series of anti-DUI messages from new Kings play-by-play announcer Mark Jones.

"I’ve called a lot of games over the years, but the one call that always pulls through in the clutch: designating a sober driver," Jones said in a video message posted on social media. "Be safe and sober this holiday season Kings fans!"

The messages coincided with the start of the NBA season, and slate of games that air nationally on Christmas Day.

The OTS will also have a series of safety messages that will be displayed on digital signs during Kings homes games and visible to those watching regional broadcasts on NBC Sports California, as well as outside the arena facing Downtown Commons.

In addition, the OTS developed educational materials for Kings Kids Club members, as well as a bicycle safety video, with the Kings mascot "Slamson" serving as instructor.

"We are excited to continue our work with a key partner who shares the same commitment and passion to going safely as we do," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "Kings fans are an active, loyal fan base and we hope our messages resonate and drive behavior change."
OTS Employee Spotlight:
Dave Doucette
The OTS has appointed Dave Doucette as the new Deputy Director of the Program Operations Division.

Dave is a familiar face around the OTS, with more than 20 years of experience in state service.

Dave joined the OTS in November 2000 as a Grant Program Coordinator, before moving on to a variety of positions within the OTS, including Regional Program Manager, Assistant Director for Southern California, and most recently as Assistant Director of Enforcement Programs.

"Dave has been a tremendous asset to the OTS for over 20 years in leading efforts to plan, implement and evaluate California's Highway Safety Program," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "There is no doubt, Dave’s passion and efforts have contributed greatly to California’s success in administering one of the nation’s leading highway safety programs."

Dave began his career at the state with the Franchise Tax Board.

A Sacramento native, Dave's Aunt and Uncle worked for the OTS. Dave recalls riding his bike by the old office location off Franklin Boulevard on his way to school, never knowing he would one day end up working there.

"They were looking for people at the OTS," Doucette said. "The rest is history."

Dave looks forward to continuing to work with grantees on programs that reduce deaths on our roads, as well as developing the next generation of leaders at the OTS.

"What keeps me going is working with good people," Doucette said. "It's about seeing other people be be able to come to the office and enjoy the positive work environment that the OTS provides."

Dave is married to his wife of 34 years and has three adult sons.

In his spare time, Dave enjoys watching his beloved Oakland Las Vegas Raiders and playing golf.
The OTS Accepting 2022 Grant Applications
The 2022 Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Grant Application Period is now open! Applications will be accepted until January 31st at 11:59 p.m.

You can apply on the OTS website at
We encourage you to share with other agencies who may be interested in funding opportunities with the OTS.

For additional information, we encourage you to watch our

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no on-site regional application workshops for the 2022 grant period.
#GoodNews Story:
Record Number of Donations for Annual CHiPs for Kids Toy Drive
Last month, thousands of toys were collected and handed out to children on Santa's "nice" list by the CHP.

The CHP partnered with KCRA Sacramento to collect more than 10,000 toys last month. A record-breaking 10,233 toys were donated during a drop-off event Dec. 4 at Cal Expo.
“I’ll tell you this year is just absolutely mind-blowing,” CHP Officer Mike Harris told KCRA Sacramento. “How generous and how much donation has gone on from the people of Sacramento.”

Then there's Linda Angelo, who donated her life's worth collection of about 200 boxes of toys to the CHiPS for Kids toy drive.

Since the late 1970s, Angelo collected toys with a dream of one day opening an antique toy shop. But with COVID-19, she decided to donate the toys instead.
“There’s going to be a lot of children this year where their parents won’t have the money to buy them a toy," Angelo told KCRA. "And I thought what better opportunity for me than to donate these to those children,"
What a great gesture from Angelo and great work by the CHP. To all of our traffic safety partners who are in the holiday spirit and giving back to children who need it most, thank you!
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 916-509-3030