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July 2022
NHTSA Report: Highly Visible Traffic Enforcement Leads to Safety Benefits
High-visibility enforcement of traffic safety laws serves as an effective deterrent to dangerous driving behaviors, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found.

Researchers looked at data from 80 existing studies to determine the impact of high-visibility enforcement campaigns on seat belt usage and speeding, as well as distracted, impaired and aggressive driving.

High-visibility enforcement campaigns increased the seat belt use rate, on average, by 3.5 percentage points. High-visibility enforcement also helped reduce speeding in work zones by an average of around four miles per hour.

“This study reinforces the need for equitable traffic enforcement focused on the most dangerous driving behaviors,” Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a statement. “Over the past two years, traffic enforcement has declined in many parts of the country, while traffic deaths surged.”

The study showed distracted driving enforcement campaigns were particularly effective, reducing cell phone use, on average, by 35%. For enforcement related to impaired driving, nearly 60% of high-visibility enforcement efforts reduced the number of crashes within enforcement areas, researchers noted.

The report comes after NHTSA released its early estimate of traffic deaths for 2021, projecting that nearly 43,000 people were killed throughout the country last year, including 4,258 deaths in California, the highest increase in nearly two decades.

Speeding and alcohol were attributed to approximately 62% of all traffic deaths in California in 2020.

The research findings indicate that while high-visibility enforcement is effective in combating certain driving behaviors, it is not the only solution to address the rising number of deaths on the nation's roads.

“Enforcement alone will not solve the traffic safety crisis,” said Adkins. “We cannot simply enforce, build, design or educate our way out of this problem. The Safe System necessitates a comprehensive approach for achieving our collective goal of zero traffic deaths, including equitable enforcement that focuses on risky driver choices that endanger all road users.”
Study: Racial Disparities in Traffic Deaths Wider than Previously Thought

Disparities in traffic deaths among Black and Hispanic Americans are larger than previous estimates, a study by Boston University and Harvard found.

Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last month, the study notes that when accounting for miles traveled during biking, walking or driving, Black Americans had the highest traffic death rate per miles traveled across all modes of transportation, followed by Hispanics, whites and Asian Americans. The disparities in the death rate per miles traveled were even more prominent for walking and biking, and during evening hours, researchers said.

Using 2017 national traffic deaths and household travel data, researchers analyzed race/ethnicity differences in travel activity by mode, distance, time of day and urban area. The additional variables provide a more accurate assessment of racial/ethnic disparities in traffic deaths than previous estimates, which did not account for differences in travel distances, underestimating the traffic-related risks, researchers said.

"That assumes that everyone of all races and ethnicities cycle, walk or drive the same number of miles, and that we find is not true," Matthew Raifman, a Boston University doctoral candidate who co-authored the study, told ABC News.

During all hours, the researchers found that white Americans biked at almost four times the distance per capita as Black Americans, but Black Americans died at more than four times (4.5) the rate per mile. Black Americans also died at more than twice (2.2 times) the rate per mile while walking, and nearly twice the rate (1.7 times) per mile driving or riding in a car compared to white Americans.

“Our results strengthen the case for investing resources in communities of color facing the highest traffic fatality risks,” study coauthor Ernani Choma, a research fellow at Harvard, said in a news release.

Traffic death rates for Hispanic Americans had similar, disproportionate impacts, but were less severe. Asian Americans had the lowest traffic death rates across all modes of travel.

Researchers hope the findings lead to polices that support investments in transportation infrastructure as well as equitable transportation access.

“It’s important to consider these disparities in traffic fatalities within the context of a transport system that suffers from racial bias—from the placement of roads, to traffic stops, to the way that ride-hail applications pair riders with drivers," study author Matthew Raifman, a doctoral candidate at Boston University, said.

As part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Job Act (IIJA), the U.S. Department of Transportation is dedicating federal funding for the Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, which allows cities and local governments to apply for grants to support safety action plans.
IIHS Study: Anti-Speeding Efforts Successful in Slowing Traffic
An anti-speeding pilot project in Maryland led to a 9% reduction in average speeds, research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found.

The project focused on a stretch of highway on Maryland's Eastern Shore that is a popular route for people heading to the beach and has a well-documented speeding problem. Last summer, the lanes were narrowed to slow traffic, and speed feedback signs were installed in two locations. In addition, outreach efforts focused on telling local residents and businesses about the lane narrowing and planned speed enforcement. The project also placed paid advertising on social media, billboards and the navigation app Waze. Researchers also placed signs along the highway announcing the enforcement and encouraging drivers to slow down. Over the course of five days, law enforcement issued more than 120 speeding citations.

During the campaign, average speeds not only dropped, but the odds that a car exceeded the speed limit dropped by 78%, with an 80% drop in the odds of a driver going more than 10 mph over the speed limit, researchers said.

“Road deaths have been climbing, and more than a quarter of them are connected to speeding,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a news release. “As this study shows, a practical, comprehensive approach to the problem can slow drivers down.”

The effects on speeding reductions were temporary, however, and went away once the campaign stopped. Average speeds were only 2% lower than before the campaign, and the odds of a driver speeding more than 10 mph were 12% higher.

Researchers believe the impacts may have stayed for most drivers, but not drivers who are excessive speeders, making it important to implement more permanent projects.

The pilot program was funded through a $100,000 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), IIHS and National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF). The three organizations are also funding a speed management pilot project for an urban location in Virginia, which is expected to start later this year.

“Speeding is dangerous and deadly, and no one solution will solve the problem,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Clearly, the Maryland project shows that a holistic approach can get drivers to slow down. When they do, it has a positive impact on their safety and that of everyone else on the road.”
IIHS: Pandemic Lockdowns Increased Incidents of Speeding, Risky Driving
More drivers were speeding during morning and afternoon commuter hours at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and drivers have never slowed down, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found.

To better understand how the pandemic affected driving behavior, IIHS researchers looked at data from more than 500 Virginia Department of Transportation speed counters, and compared the number of vehicles driving at least 5 mph and 10 mph over the speed limit from March to June 2020 with the same period in 2019. Researchers also looked at the change in driver speeds based on the time of day, day of the week and type of roadway.

The odds of a driver going at least 10 mph over the speed limit rose by more than 50% from March to June 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier. The findings are in line with federal data collected since then that shows speeding and other risky driving behaviors continued into 2021.

This was particularly noticeable during commute hours, where drivers traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit rose 43% between 6 and 9 a.m., and 63% between 3 and 6 p.m. National data shows this type of behavior stayed even after traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“The empty roads probably tempted pandemic-stressed drivers to put the pedal down,” Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at IIHS, said in a news release. “But information collected since the lockdowns ended and the roads filled back up suggests that risky driving has become the new normal.”
2022 California Traffic Safety Survey: Speeding and Aggressive Driving Biggest Safety Concern
Most Californians consider speeding and aggressive driving as the biggest safety concern, according to this year's California Traffic Safety Survey.

The annual survey was conducted by the Office of Traffic Safety, UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), and Ewald & Wasserman Research Consultants.

Seventy-five percent of surveyed drivers listed speeding and aggressive driving as their biggest safety concern, followed by distracted driving because of texting (71.5% of respondents) and drunk driving (67.4% of respondents).

Other key findings include:
  • "Aggressive Driving/Road Rage" was the most common response to the biggest behavior change on roads since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Nearly three out of every four people surveyed (73.9%) do not believe that it is safe to drive over the speed limit on residential streets, a 22.2% increase from last year's survey.
  • 68.2% of people surveyed believe it is legal to ride bicycles on roadways when there is no bike lane, a 6% increase from last year.
  • More than half of people surveyed (52.9%) selected “Driver Behavior” as the most important factor resulting in traffic injuries/fatalities, followed by “Speeding Vehicles" (26.4%).

For the first time, this year's survey asked respondents about ways to increase safety for all road users based on the Safe System Approach.

More than half of respondents (56.4%) said they are comfortable with sharing the road with bicyclists “when there is a protected bike lane divider."

Overall, approximately half of the respondents rated five components of the Safe System Approach as “Very Important." The highest-rated factor was to “improve safe streets design to design roads that support all road users, including drivers, pedestrian, bicyclists and transit."

The annual traffic safety survey has been conducted since 2010. Online surveys were introduced in 2020.

A total of 2,766 people filled out the survey in April. The survey's standard margin of error is 1.86% at a 95% confidence level.
OTS, Caltrans and NHTSA to Release New Anti-Speeding Campaign
The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will release a new anti-speeding campaign encouraging drivers to slow down.

The campaign will run July 18-31 and feature a series of safety messages on digital platforms, including social media, streaming and gaming services, as well as outdoor billboards. A new video public service announcement will run on social media, with an audio version on radio.

The new campaign expands on the "Slow the Fast Down" campaign that launched in November 2020.

"Speeding might save a couple minutes on your trip at best, but it costs a lot more in the serious risk to others on the road," OTS Director Barbara Rooney. "It can literally be a matter of life or death. It's never worth it."

In 2020, speeding-related crashes killed 1,228 people, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in California.

In this year's California Traffic Safety Survey, 75% percent of surveyed drivers listed speeding and aggressive driving as their biggest safety concern.

Speeding has become such a problem on roads throughout the country that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is releasing the first of its kind national speed prevention campaign. Called "Speeding Wrecks Lives", the campaign will be similar to the OTS and Caltrans initiative, focusing on the dangers and consequences of speeding.

NTHSA will host a speeding prevention campaign kick-off event and news conference July 19 in Los Angeles.
New Certification Requirements for Bartenders, Servers Start This Summer
Starting this month, alcohol servers and their managers are required to complete mandatory training and obtain a Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) certification from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

The training can be done online, with dozens of approved training providers. Servers and their managers have until Aug. 31 to meet the new requirements. New hires must pass the exam and be certified within 60 days of employment.

An "alcohol server" is anyone employed at a bar or restaurant licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on-site, and who checks identification, takes orders, and pours or brings alcoholic beverages to customers.

The three-step RBS Training and Certification process includes registering with ABC as a server online, attending training by an ABC approved RBS Training Provider, and taking an alcohol server certification exam.

“The development of the RBS portal is a major accomplishment. The entirety of the certification process is online, including the ability to accept online payments,” said ABC Licensing Division Chief Jaime Taylor in a news release. “The RBS training program is designed to provide licensees, managers, and servers with the tools and knowledge needed to promote responsible consumption, reduce youth access to alcohol, and make communities safe.”

The training covers five areas, including the effects of alcohol on the body, laws and regulations, intervention and good management policies. The training is three to four hours and the exam is two hours.

The new RBS certification is required under Assembly Bill 1221 (2017) and  Assembly Bill 82.(2020)
OTS and MADD Host Series of Law Enforcement Recognition Awards
The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognized hundreds of law enforcement officers, criminal prosecutors and victim advocates at this year's MADD Central Valley/Kern County Law Enforcement Recognition Awards in Bakersfield last month.

"Today, we recognize the incredible efforts of law enforcement to get impaired drivers off the roads," said OTS Director Barbara Rooney, "Your efforts do not go unnoticed."

The awards included outstanding prosecutors, outstanding officers, outstanding rookies, as well as the "Top Cops" who made the most DUI arrests.

Officer Matthew Aquino with the Bakersfield Police Department was one of two "Top Cop" recipients, after making 134 DUI arrests last year. The other "Top Cop" was Coalinga-area CHP Officer Hugo Solorio, who made 107 DUI arrests.

Last year, the OTS funded anti-DUI enforcement efforts that resulted in nearly 7,000 DUI arrests throughout the state.

MADD and the OTS held recognition awards in Los Angeles County and San Diego County. Recognition awards ceremonies will be held throughout the month to recognize anti-DUI efforts in Orange County, Sacramento and the Bay Areas.

"No more victims. That is our collective focus," Director Rooney said. "Each arrest and person stopped from hurting someone is another step closer to no more victims."
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