Your Monthly Update

July 2023

OTS, Caltrans, CHP and AAA Raise Awareness About the Dangers of Speeding

The OTS, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California Highway Patrol (CHP), and Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) launched a new “Better Slow than Sorry” anti-speeding campaign that encourages drivers to keep their neighborhoods safe by slowing down. Speed-related deaths are at a 14-year high and account for 35% of all traffic deaths in California.

On July 17, the OTS and its traffic safety partners kicked off the campaign at a news conference in Los Angeles. The new video message emphasizes that drivers are going too fast if they do not allow enough time to stop or react to road conditions.

“Speeding is a dangerous choice that can have deadly consequences for everyone on our roads,” said OTS Director Barbara Rooney. “If you’re driving, make sure you have enough time to stop, slow down or react. The choices you make behind the wheel could help save lives. Keep neighborhoods safe by following the speed limit. It’s better to be slow than sorry.”

The anti-speeding campaign, which includes audio messages on radio and streaming services, as well as digital billboards and social media, runs through the end of July.

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New Report Helps Law Enforcement, Community Leaders Improve Public Engagement in Traffic Safety Efforts and Safe Night, LLC released a new report providing specific recommendations to state and local law enforcement agencies to more effectively engage with communities to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities. Titled, Proactive Engagement in Traffic Enforcement and Safety,” the report provides a foundational model for purposeful, proactive engagement to help reach more community stakeholders and build trust in communities. The report also includes recommendations for State Highway Safety Offices, State Departments of Transportation, and the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration to support proactive engagement initiatives.

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Pedestrian Fatalities Skyrocket: Drivers Hit and Killed More Than 7,500 Pedestrians Last Year

Drivers struck and killed at least 7,508 people walking in the United States in 2022 – the most pedestrian deaths since 1981, according to a new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The report also includes an analysis of 2021 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that reveals a troubling safety disparity for people on foot: Pedestrian fatalities have skyrocketed 77% since 2010, compared to 25% for all other traffic-related deaths.

It is well documented that people of color, particularly in low-income communities, are overrepresented in pedestrian fatalities. According to the report, 20% of pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles in the U.S. in 2020 were Black despite being just 12.4% of the total U.S. population. Locations with household income of less than $50,000 a year were nearly twice as likely to be sites where people are struck and killed by a vehicle compared to locations with income greater than $50,000.

The OTS supports equity in its grant programs, prioritizing funding in communities that do not have equitable access to safe biking and walking transportation options. The OTS plans to award nearly $12 million in bicycle and pedestrian safety funds in Federal Fiscal Year 2024, a nearly 35% increase from the previous grant cycle. Among those funds, approximately $2.27 million will go toward 35 trainings and walking/biking safety assessments throughout the state to implement infrastructure solutions that enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety, including in historically underserved communities and tribal areas. 

Read the report

SafeTREC Co-Director Jill Cooper Retires After 23 Years Advancing Traffic Safety

UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) announced co-Director Jill Cooper’s retirement from UC Berkeley on June 29 after 23 years of service. Recognized for her inspiring and dedicated leadership to advance equity across transportation, Jill has worked with partners at the community, regional, state and national level to improve traffic safety and well-being for people of all ages and abilities through her research, education, and public service.

She launched the CPBST program at SafeTREC, a partnership with California Walks (CalWalks) and funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). The program has reached nearly 120 underserved communities in California, and works to strengthen collaboration between all safety partners, and collectively develop a community driven safety action plan.

On June 12, the OTS honored Jill with a 2023 Traffic Safety Excellence award in recognition of her exceptional performance, outstanding contributions, and dedicated service.

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2023 California Traffic Safety Survey: Speeding and Aggressive Driving Remains Top Safety Concern

Most Californians still 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.

Nearly 80% of surveyed drivers listed speeding and aggressive driving as their biggest safety concern, followed by distracted driving because of texting (74.2% of respondents) and drunk driving (68.6% of respondents). The annual traffic safety survey has been conducted since 2010. Online surveys were introduced in 2020. A total of 2,815 people filled out the survey in April.

Read the survey

Grantee Highlight: SCAG Go Human Awards $360,000 to 11 Community Driven Projects

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Go Human program announced that 11 community organizations were conditionally awarded funding for local projects that leverage community gathering and resource sites to implement equity-centered, traffic safety and community engagement strategies.

This summer, the awardees from across SCAG’s six-county region will implement a wide variety of safety projects: community audits that share and build local knowledge, playful street activations that prioritize safety for people walking and biking, and community events that build momentum and support for essential safety installations.

The OTS funds the Go Human Community Hubs Grant that awards community organizations for local projects in low-income, underserved communities to improve walking and biking safety. Since 2018, non-profits and community-based organizations have received more than $890,000 for 100+ projects in the six-county SCAG region.

Meet the awardees

Go Safely Takeover at Republic FC Match

Thousands of fans braved the Sacramento heat to watch Republic FC compete against East Coast rival Memphis 901 on July 15. And whether they were sitting sideline, endline or online, messages appeared throughout the 90-minute match reminding fans to Go Safely by choosing a sober way to go and being work zone alert. In addition, everyone in attendance received an interactive yellow/red card with information about the Designated Driver Program and Go Safely Movement. At halftime, fans witnessed participants wear goggles that simulate the dangerous effects of being impaired. The partnership between Republic FC and OTS and Caltrans was introduced in 2022.

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OTS Hosts Traffic Safety Law Enforcement Forum

The OTS Law Enforcement Forum brought together more than 300 state law enforcement personnel and partners. At such a critical time to combat the growing safety crisis on our roads, this was an important opportunity to discuss traffic safety challenges and collaborate on actions. Their role is vital in saving lives.

Watch highlights

Making Healthy Connections in Transportation

An article in the latest edition of Public Roads, a quarterly magazine from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), highlights how transportation and health are interconnected. Read more about how the U.S. DOT and its federal partners are working to make equitable investments in communities throughout the country that improve physical, mental, social, environmental, and economic health.

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Lifesavers 2024: Call for Speaker Proposals

The Lifesavers Conference Planning Committee is now accepting speaker proposals for the 2024 Conference workshops, to be held April 7–9, in Denver, Colorado. All proposals must be submitted through this online portal. Speaker proposals are limited to three per person. The portal will close on September 5, 2023, and no speaker proposals will be accepted after this date.

All speaker proposals are carefully reviewed for their applicability to the Lifesavers Conference audience with an emphasis on “research to practice” and “vigorously evaluated programs".

Submit a proposal

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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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