Your Monthly Update

January 2023

Director's Message

Dear OTS Partners,

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you celebrated the start of 2023 safely and in good spirits with friends and family.

As I reflect on the past year, I am grateful for the collaboration and partnership in implementing comprehensive safety measures in your communities to save lives. Your collective efforts demonstrate California's commitment to reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roadways.

In 2022, the OTS awarded nearly $95 million in federal funding to support more than 350 traffic safety grants dedicated to making our roads safer for travel. These grants provided much-needed education programs in underserved areas and increased enforcement activities where alcohol- and drug-impaired driving impacted communities the most. Visit our website for a snapshot of the many great programs that took place in 2022. This fiscal year, the OTS leveraged historic levels of highway safety funds to increase our grant awards by nearly 15% and make an even more significant impact in 2023.

Significant efforts are needed to reverse the troubling trends we are experiencing on our roadways. This challenge is being met with once-in-a-generation investments in highway safety provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and a National Roadway Safety Strategy rooted in the Safe System framework. BIL also introduced expanded requirements for public and community participation in funding decisions, which will further our actions to address a better and more equitable use of federal funds in communities most impacted by highway safety problems.  

The OTS is focused on meaningful public input into our highway safety planning process and highway safety program. We are committed to building and strengthening relationships with community-based organizations, non-profits and local leaders to provide resources and a seat at the table so people of all incomes, races and ethnicities are safe when they travel. Additionally, we are working to advance equity in traffic safety through the implementation of an OTS Equity Action Plan that guides us toward achieving more equitable outcomes in our program activities.

Thank you for all you do to provide safe transportation for all and save lives.

All the best and go safely,

Barbara L. Rooney

OTS Director

New Year, New Laws

The New Year brings with it new laws. Here is newly enacted legislation to look out for:

AB 1732: This law authorizes law enforcement agencies to request the CHP to activate a “Yellow Alert” when a fatal hit-and-run crash has occurred and specific criteria has been met to permit alert activation. The law also encourages local media outlets to disseminate the information contained in a Yellow Alert. The new law serves to use the public’s assistance when working to solve fatal hit-and-run crashes. 

AB 1909: Drivers are now required to change into another available lane, when possible, to pass cyclists, building on the current requirement for drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. The law also permits electric bicycle (e-bike) riders to use bicycle paths and trails, bikeways, and bicycle lanes, except in state parks, which will be subject to the discretion of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. In addition, starting on January 1, 2024, the law allows cyclists to cross an intersection when a “Walk” sign is on.

AB 1946: This law requires the CHP to work with other traffic safety stakeholders such as the California Office of Traffic Safety, to develop statewide safety and training programs for e-bikes. This training program, which will consist of e-bike riding safety, emergency maneuver skills, rules of the road and laws pertaining to e-bikes, will launch on the CHP’s website in September 2023.

AB 2000: Parking lots across the state are now included with public roads as locations where street racing and sideshows are banned. Another law passed in 2021 (AB 3, Fong) allows courts to suspend an individual’s driver’s license for violating this ban beginning on July 1, 2025.

AB 2147: This law prohibits peace officers from stopping pedestrians for certain pedestrian-specific violations, such as crossing the road outside of a crosswalk, unless there is an immediate danger of a crash.

Grantee Highlights:

2022 Year in Review

The OTS and our partners continued to work toward improving safety of everyone on the road. The OTS developed and administered safety initiatives focusing on programs that increased education around the most vulnerable road users – bicyclists and pedestrians. Funding supported effective traffic safety measures such as walking and biking assessments, bicycle and pedestrian safety trainings, new infrastructure demonstration and education projects, and awareness programs for teens and the public on the dangers of impaired driving.

One of the many highlights that prioritize safety through OTS grants is the San Mateo County Office of Education Every Kid Deserves a Bike program in South San Francisco. During the 2022 grant year, the program supported low-income families with outdoor experiences, 160 free bicycles and bike helmets for students, bike safety items and bicycle education. The Every Kid Deserves a Bike won the Project of the Year award at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Summit in August 2022.

For a snapshot of the many great programs in 2022, visit our website.

OTS Accepting Applications for

2024 Federal Fiscal Year

Do you have traffic safety ideas that you would like to implement in your area? Traffic fatalities continue to be a significant problem in California so let’s work together to save lives! We look forward to having conversations on improving traffic safety in your community.

The OTS is accepting applications for the 2024 Federal Fiscal Year. Applications are due electronically by Jan. 31. To apply through our Grants Electronic Management System (GEMS), visit the OTS website. You may also view our virtual application workshop and download a slide deck of our presentation.

Help Caltrans Name New Mascot

Did you know the traffic cones you see along roadways have helped protect highway workers for more than 80 years? Safety cones play a huge role here in California. They are important indicators for drivers to reduce speed, be extra alert, watch out – and in some cases MOVE OVER to the next lane if it is safe to do so – for highway workers, law enforcement, emergency personnel, and tow truck drivers. We think cones are important and so are you! That’s why we’re asking YOU to help us name our new cone mascot.


The contest is open to children throughout California, ages 5-18, who attend school in the state. Visit the Go Safely website for more details and submit an entry before Jan. 20. Winners will be announced Jan. 31.

NHTSA Releases New Study on Drug and Alcohol Use by Road Users

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than half the people injured or killed in traffic crashes had one or more drugs, or alcohol, in their system.

The study found that just over 54% of injured drivers had drugs or alcohol in their systems, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana, the most prevalent, followed by alcohol, the Associated Press reported.

The study of blood tests taken at seven level-one trauma centers and four medical examiners’ offices across the country comes at a critical time on U.S. roadways. Traffic deaths have risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic to what officials describe as crisis levels. And more states are legalizing recreational use of marijuana with research just starting about the impact on traffic safety.

The study took place between September 2019 and July 2021 at trauma centers in Miami and Jacksonville, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Baltimore; Worcester, Mass.; Iowa City, Iowa; and Sacramento. Medical examiners at four of the sites also took part.

The study, which took blood-test data from 7,279 road users, also found that more than half of injured pedestrians and just over 43% of injured bicyclists had a drug in their bloodstreams.

Of the total number of patients, 25.1% tested positive for THC, 23.1% for alcohol, 10.8% for stimulants and 9.3% for opioids, according to the study.

Researchers counted any level of drugs in blood samples and did not measure whether people were impaired or not. NHTSA is planning a national roadside survey to measure alcohol and drug use on the roads. It last did such a survey in 2014.

Roadmap to Safety Report: 20th Edition

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released the 2023 Roadmap to Safety Report. The advocacy group's annual report ranks states' highway safety laws based on 16 "optimal" laws every state should have in the areas of occupant protection, child passenger safety, young adult drivers, impaired driving and distracted driving. California was one of 36 states to receive a "yellow" rating indicating that improvement is needed in highway safety laws protecting children and other vehicle occupants.

California received accolades for its seat belt law for all vehicle occupants, motorcycle helmet law, and child passenger safety seat law. However, California received a lower ranking for not requiring ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers, as well as for not having automated enforcement in use.

Prior to previous reports, the 2023 report also provides detailed strategies for incorporating technological solutions and safety infrastructure upgrades.

AAA Foundation Releases

2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index

As the impacts of traffic safety on public health have worsened, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index report for stakeholders to use as a resource to understand public perceptions and attitudes toward unsafe driving behaviors. As traffic volumes returned to pre-pandemic levels, so did the number of traffic deaths. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, alcohol involvement, and lack of seatbelt use, attributed to the increase in traffic deaths.

Apply Now for a

Community Safety Training

UC Berkeley SafeTREC and California Walks are accepting applications for the 2023 Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) and the Comunidades Activas y Seguras (CAyS) Programs.

The CPBST and CAyS programs work with local residents, schools, agencies and other safety partners to develop a community-driven action plan to improve walking and biking safety.

This year, SafeTREC and California Walks will partner with communities across the state to discuss, plan, and implement active transportation safety improvements and projects.

They are currently seeking 10 new communities to partner with to make their communities safer for walking and biking. The programs will prioritize working in communities that are at higher risk for road traffic injuries and addressing the safety needs of people who are underserved by traditional transportation planning and resources.

For early consideration, please apply by Jan. 20. Applications will be open until all slots are filled.

Visit Berkeley SafeTREC website for more information and application forms.

Publications and Resources

Release Templates

New "Go Safely" Public Service Announcements

Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) Program

OTS Grant Application for FFY2024

OTS Funding At a Glance

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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).
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