County Gets Grant to Educate Richmond Teens About DUI and Safe Driving
October 30, 2003
A new traffic safety project will soon be out in the streets to help make driving safer for young drivers in Richmond.
The Teen DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Education and Enforcement Project, a collaboration of Contra Costa Health Services and the Richmond Police Department, has been given a grant of nearly $200,000 by the state (California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency) to conduct safety activities that benefit drivers under 21 years old in the City of Richmond.
"Unfortunately, Richmond had the highest rate of underage DUI-related traffic injury incidences in its size category in 2001," says Nancy Baer, manager of the county's Injury Prevention Program, citing data from the California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.
Richmond Police Chief Charles Bennett says that DUI arrests are a powerful deterrent against those who drink and drive. In the past, budget constraints have limited DUI enforcement in Richmond. The grant will allow the Richmond Police Department to enhance DUI enforcement by conducting a DUI checkpoint every three months and adding 42 DUI enforcement shifts to its Traffic Unit during holiday and peak periods.
"The grant also allows us to conduct classroom presentations to at least 500 Richmond teens on safe driving behavior, which includes regular seat belt use," says Baer, adding that the Richmond Police's DUI shifts will be enforcing seat belt use as well.
"We will be doing observation studies of teen driver seat belt use at the start and end of the project, so we can determine if our driver education has had an impact," Baer adds.
Baer says the project is excited about working with the county's TeenAge Program (TAP) to implement the driver education curriculum. "TAP will recruit, train and support a group of Peer Educators - high school students themselves - who will use creative methods such as theater and community advocacy to promote safe driving behavior," she says.
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