Your Monthly Update
March 2021

Director's Message
One Year Into COVID-19.
It’s hard to believe that it has been one year since our lives were upended by a global pandemic. The year brought new challenges and troubling trends to traffic safety. Through it all, we, the traffic safety community, have remained optimistic of recovery and focused on what always matters: saving lives.
The way we get around and engage with one another is certainly different. The way we deliver traffic safety programs has been altered. Yet our commitment to helping everyone “go safely” has endured.
I am so proud of the OTS team, our grantees, and all of our traffic safety partners for staying the course and addressing the most critical traffic safety issues we continue to face.
The light at the end of the tunnel is glimmering in the distance. Sooner than later, we will reach a post-pandemic world where unmasked faces, happy get-togethers and other ordinary in-person experiences become the norm.
We are social creatures, and traffic safety is about people and making life better for how and when they travel. If anything, the past year has given everyone a renewed sense of care for our own safety and the safety of others. So, let’s work together to harness this moment and help our communities translate it to safer behavior on the road.
Thank you for your collaboration and partnership. Let’s continue to forge ahead working to make our roads safer for all road users, one day at a time.

Be safe and well,
Barbara L. Rooney
OTS Director
IIHS Study: Crash Risk
Higher for Women
Women are more at risk of serious injury when involved in a crash compared to men, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found.

Much of the increased risk is related to the types of vehicles driven and factors leading up to the crash, rather than physical differences between men and women, the IIHS found.

Men are involved in more deadly crashes, but women are 20-28% more likely than men to be killed and up to 74% more likely to be seriously injured, adjusting for speed and other factors.

“The numbers indicate that women more often drive smaller, lighter cars and that they’re more likely than men to be driving the struck vehicle in side-impact and front-into-rear crashes,” IIHS vice president of vehicle research and one of the study's authors Jessica Jermakian said in a release. “Once you account for that, the difference in the odds of most injuries narrows dramatically.”

The differences in injury risk for men and women has led to efforts to develop new crash test dummies that reflect how women's bodies react to the forces of collisions, as well as other changes to modernize crash-testing programs.

Researchers looked at injuries in police-reported tow-away front and side crashes from 1998 to 2015. The IIHS study found women were three times as likely to suffer injuries like a broken bone or concussion, and twice as likely to suffer serious injuries like a collapsed lung or traumatic brain injury.

Researchers noted one possible cause for higher injury rates among women: vehicle choice. More women crashed in cars, around 70% of women, versus 60% of men. More than 20% of men crashed in pickups, compared to less than 5% of women.

“The good news is that changes like strengthening the occupant compartment and improving seat belts and airbags have helped protect both men and women,” Jermakian said. “Homing in on the risk disparities that still exist in compatible crashes gives us a great opportunity to make further gains.”
California Bill Would Continue to Allow Restaurants to Offer Cocktails to-go

A California Senator is looking to make the sale of takeout cocktails permanent under a proposed law introduced last month.

Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), called the legislation a "lifeline" to California restaurants.

“Keeping small businesses alive while they do their part to observe Covid-19 restrictions is of paramount importance,” Sen. Dodd said in a statement announcing the proposed legislation. “If allowing restaurants to sell carry out cocktails alongside a meal helps keep their doors open, we must do it."

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) provided regulatory relief at the onset of COVID-19 related restrictions, allowing restaurants to sell cocktails as part of takeout or delivery food orders.

Sen. Dodd's bill would make this regulatory relief permanent. It would still require customers to purchase a meal with the alcohol order.

According to the National Restaurant Association, between 70% and 85% of those polled support making alcohol delivery permanent. The bill has the support of the California Restaurant Association.

California saw a rise in incidents involving alcohol deliveries to minors during COVID-19 restrictions.

Since then, the ABC adopted a new emergency regulation that establishes enforcement rules through delivery decoys to curb deliveries and online purchases of alcohol to minors. Working with third-party delivery companies, the new Delivery Decoy regulation resulted in a significant drop in the violation rate from 70% in the Spring of 2020 to 17% in 2021.
GHSA Report: Distracted Driving Deaths Rise Nearly 10% in 2019

A new report by the Governors Highway Association (GHSA) reveals a startling increase in the number of people killed in distracted driving related crashes.

Titled "Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications," the new report released last month found that deadly crashes involving a distracted driver went up nearly 10% in 2019 from the year before. In 2019, 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving related crashes, up from the 2,841 people killed in such crashes in 2018.

"We look at a lot of screens these days, but the last place anyone should be staring down at a screen is while driving," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "It's a bad habit and one that takes discipline to change the behavior. This report shows how big the problem is and the education and enforcement efforts needed to reverse this troubling trend."

The report accounts for incidents that confirmed a driver was distracted at the time of a crash, meaning the actual numbers are likely higher.

“Driver distraction is likely underreported as a cause in crashes; therefore, fatalities caused by distracted driving may be much greater,” the report said.

Researchers have found that texting while driving significantly increases your chances of being in a crash, with overall crash rates increasing by 8.3% and severe crash rates increasing by 6.5% for every text sent per hour of driving.

Distracted driving was highest among teenage drivers, with those aged 16 through 19 sending an average of nearly three texts per hour of driving. Texting and driving was also high among drivers aged 20 through 29, who sent an average of 2.6 texts per hour of driving, researchers found.

Researchers examined distracted driving laws, as well as enforcement and public education practices across the country. They found the most effective laws and safety efforts included four key actions: clear statutory language about when you can and can't use a phone while driving, penalties and fines similar to other traffic violations, a combination of enforcement and targeted outreach campaigns, and coalition-building efforts.

The researchers also developed various resource for states to use such as highlights on the benefits of strong distracted driving laws and what to include in laws, ideas for public safety campaigns, and presentations that provide guidance to law enforcement.

The report also outlines future research needs and whether there are other ways to reduce distracted driving without legislation.

“Overall, the materials developed for this project were designed to promote knowledge and awareness and serve as the basis for a toolkit on electronic device use legislation, education, and enforcement,” the report said.

Distracted driving remains a significant traffic safety problem, and it is perceived as one by the public.

An online survey conducted last year by the OTS, UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) and Ewald and Wasserman Research Consultants found that distracted driving because of texting was the biggest traffic safety concern among California drivers. More than 75% of those surveyed listed distracted driving because of texting as their main concern.

The report is the first released under the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program (BTSCRP) to increase the understanding of behavioral traffic safety topics. Upcoming reports will focus on other road safety topics, including how infrastructure design impacts distracted driving, e-scooter safety and traffic safety messaging on electronic signs.
Autonomous Vehicle Permit Holders Logged Nearly 2 Million Test Miles Driven in Latest Reporting Period
Companies testing autonomous vehicles logged nearly two million miles in California during the most recent reporting period, the DMV said last month.

The approximately 1.99 million miles in autonomous mode, with a safety driver, was down about 800,000 miles from the previous reporting cycle.

The 63 reports submitted to the DMV include the number of disengagements, testing conditions, location and total miles traveled in autonomous mode on public roads.

A "disengagement" is when a technology glitch is detected, or when the safety driver needs to take control of the vehicle. California regulations do not require permit holders to report testing on private roads or test tracks, testing done outside the state, testing below level three of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) automation levels or simulated testing.

The latest reporting period covers December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2020.

There are 55 companies that hold permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver. Six have a permit for driverless testing.

Cruise LLC clocked the most miles of any company testing self-driving vehicles the past reporting period, traveling more than 770,000 miles, followed by Waymo LLC.

While consumers are embracing new technology, public acceptance and demand of autonomous vehicles is not quite up to par, AAA's annual automated vehicle survey found. The survey revealed only 22% of people feel manufacturers should focus on developing self-driving vehicles. Most drivers (80%) wanted current vehicle safety systems, such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance.

“People are ready to embrace new vehicle technology, especially if it will make driving safer,” AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations Greg Brannon said.

“Consumers are clear about what they want and if automakers seize the opportunity to provide a better experience now, it will pave the way for the vehicles of tomorrow.”
OTS Employee Spotlight:
Whitney Braziel
Whitney Braziel
The OTS is excited to welcome back Whitney Braziel as our new Branch Chief of Enforcement Programs.

Whitney has nearly 20 years of experience in state service. She returns to the OTS after a nearly two-year stint with the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), where she was Division Chief in the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Branch. While there, she managed long-term projects to alleviate future disasters, such as lifting homes to avoid flood damage, fire resistant construction on homes and vegetation management.

Whitney is a familiar face around the office and for many grantees; she worked at the OTS for nearly six years as a grant program coordinator and the Statewide Occupant Protection Coordinator.

"We all use some form of transportation," Braziel said. "What I’m looking forward to is creating that safe mode of transportation for everyone."

Whitney began her career with the State at the Employment Development Department (EDD) adjudicating unemployment claims, interviewing claimants and determining eligibility.

She says her initial experience with the EDD helped her develop social skills and being considerate of people's circumstances and situations.

"Not everybody was happy to meet with me," she said. "(It was about) trying to find ways to help them."

Whitney enjoys the human element that comes with working in traffic safety, and believes the OTS is a way to help create a safer road environment long-term.

"I hate to be cliché and say 'go safely' (but) 'go safely' is so versatile in the transportation world. You can use it in any aspect," she said.

An Elk Grove native and California State University, Fresno alum, Whitney enjoys hiking and photography. She has displayed her work at art shows, and specializes in nature shots and portraits.

She has an older sister and younger brother, who along with her parents and brother's family, have been her social circle since the onset of COVID-19.

The first thing Whitney would like to do once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides is hug her friends.

But in the meantime, she's excited to return to the OTS and work with law enforcement agencies on programs that keep the traveling public safe.

"I'm just happy to be back," she said.
MADD, the OTS Host Social Media Workshop for MADD of Youth Program
The OTS Marketing and Public Affairs Team hosted a workshop Feb. 24 with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) focused on best social media practices. Approximately 60 students learned tips and tools to educate their peers on traffic safety and encourage them to be safe on the road.

The webinar was part of MADD's California State Teen Influencer Group, which provides leadership opportunities for students that allow them to develop an influential learning experience amongst their peers regarding traffic safety.

A big shout out to MADD and the grantees we highlighted as examples of creative, compelling and informative content about traffic safety!
Lifesavers Conference Update
There's still time to register for the 2021 Lifesavers Conference April 26-28! To sign up and register, visit the Lifesavers Conference website.

The 2021 conference was originally scheduled to take place in Long Beach, but will be held virtually due to COVID-19. There will be no on-site conference activities.

A listing of workshop titles and descriptions are also available on the Lifesavers Conference website.
An Unprecedented Year:
2020 Grant Program Highlights
In the midst of a global pandemic, 2020 was a year unlike any in recent memory. But from the onset of COVID-19 many of our grantees rose to the occasion to meet unprecedented challenges, and continue to deliver innovative programs that improved traffic safety in their community.

From socially distanced bicycle "rodeos" to virtual car seat checks to a new online survey on the issue of speeding, we wanted to highlight some of our many great programs.

Read about the 2020 Grant Program Highlights on the OTS website.
Go Safely, Anywhere:
Customizable Logos Available For Use
The OTS is excited to offer new, customizable "Go Safely, California" logos that will localize the "go safely" brand for your community.

Vector files and a PDF templates are available for download in both English and Spanish on the OTS website.
The Traffic Safety Navigator: A Look
at the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP)
The Spring 2021 edition of the SHSP e-newsletter is here!

The Traffic Safety Navigator provides updates to the 2020-2024 SHSP, as well as insight into best practices for strategies that help reduce injuries and deaths on our roads.

The Spring 2021 edition focuses on the Challenge Area Leaders that are responsible for implementing SHSP actions and accomplishments.

The SHSP is a statewide effort involving the OTS, Caltrans, DMV, CHP and more than 500 other safety partners from hundreds of public and private agencies. Started in 2005, the SHSP helps ensure continued progress to meet changing safety needs.

Sign up and subscribe to the newsletter here:

For those interested in participating in the development and implementation of the SHSP, a sign up sheet is available below:
#Trending Stories: Carpool Mannequin
The California Highway Patrol's Baldwin Park office busted a carpool driver with "one of the best dummies we've ever seen," as the CHP put it in a Facebook post.

The CHP said the Toyota Tacoma was in the carpool lane on Interstate 210 in Glendora last month, when an officer noticed what looked like a person that wasn't moving, NBC Los Angeles reported.

The officer pulled the driver over for tinted windows, and after rolling down the windows, it became clear the passenger was not a real person, but a mannequin.

The driver told the officer he had been driving in the carpool lane with the mannequin for more than a year before being caught.

So what's more impressive? The mannequin wearing a seat belt, face mask, glasses, Cleveland Indians hat, and even sporting a few graying hairs? Or that the officer actually spotted the not-so-real passenger?

Give this one an "A" for effort, but "T" for ticket for driving "solo" in the carpool lane.

"At least he was following CDC guidelines by wearing his face mask," CHP Baldwin Park quipped.

Even CHP West Valley got in on the fun.

"Fake passenger to avoid carpool ticket? Or Disneyland animatronic just trying to assimilate to normal life outside the park?" the CHP West Valley office joked on Twitter.

Needless to say, whether the "dummy" was escaping the glamour of Madame Tussauds or is a fake passenger but real Cleveland sports fan, the high-occupancy vehicle violation cost the driver. He was cited and given a ticket for the HOV violation.
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