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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Contact: Gordon Hickey
804.291.8977 (cell)

Contact: Melanie Stokes
(804) 367-6623
(804) 840-9756 (cell)

Governor Kaine Announces $13.5 Million in Highway Safety Grants
Funds Support a Variety of Projects Aimed at Saving Lives

RICHMOND -- Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced the award of more than $13.5 million in federal grant funds to support traffic safety programs in Virginia. Grant recipients are local, non-profit and state organizations that strive to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries on the Commonwealth's roadways.

Forty-four percent of the grant money was awarded to localities, 16 percent to non-profit organizations, 33 percent to state agencies and seven percent to higher education entities. "Transportation safety grants help make Virginia communities safer," Governor Kaine said. "These grants enable localities, state agencies and non-profit organizations to support programs that address a wide range of transportation safety needs."

Programs receiving grant funds work toward increasing safety belt and child safety seat usage, deterring impaired and aggressive driving, and promoting awareness of risks for teen and senior drivers. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) is responsible for administering the funds. The Board of Transportation Safety, with 12 members appointed by the Governor, recommends approval of the grant applications.

DMV's VAHSO works with safety partners throughout the Commonwealth to ensure yearly progress toward the goals of the state's safety grants program. DMV's VAHSO establishes measurable objectives, and evaluates and provides feedback on the grant recipients' performances on a quarterly basis. Future funding requests are determined on progress toward these established performance targets.

"Virginia's safety partners demonstrate their dedication to reducing needless deaths and injuries resulting from traffic crashes," said DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit, who serves as the Governor's highway safety representative. "Our goal is to target limited resources to projects that produce the biggest results in saving lives."

One such safety partner is the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), a non-profit organization that operates Checkpoint Strikeforce, a broad-based paid radio and media campaign supported by high visibility sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. Checkpoint Strikeforce strives to educate, identify and apprehend drunk drivers.

From October 1, 2007 through June 1, 2008, Checkpoint Strikeforce enforcement activities resulted in 1,116 DUI arrests, 1,229 safety belt citations and 256 child restraint citations. Thirty-six juveniles were cited for underage drinking, and there were 14,655 other arrests, citations and warnings. Since Virginia does not have an open container law, $6.4 million of the $13.5 million in grants was diverted from federal highway road funds for alcohol-safety related activities.

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