Grant awarded for road safety

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The West Alabama Traffic Program (WATSP) has received two grants aimed at supporting efforts to improve the safety of West Alabama roads.

Grants, totaling $63,881, were awarded by Gov. Bob Riley to the program to target and prevent the most common causes of traffic injuries and deaths in the area. WATSP will use the grant funds to coordinate law enforcement efforts to reduce the number of deadly automobile crashes resulting from speeding or driving under the influence.

In an attempt to curb the number if crashes, WATSP will pay overtime expenses for police officers to intensify enforcement of speeding, seat belt and DUI laws during periods of high traffic, including Memorial Day. Local police departments will also set up sobriety checkpoints periodically as part of the effort.

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WATSP will also conduct educational campaigns through the program to promote safe driving for truck owners and the Hispanic population of the area. Traffic safety brochures will be distributed to all area schools and the office will conduct presentations at daycare centers and community events on how to properly install child safety seats.

&8220;Some agencies don&8217;t have the manpower or funds needed to adequately enforce road safety,&8221; said Washington. &8220;We will discuss what each agency needs with them and have a law enforcement committee to look at the agencies as well.&8221;

The WATSP office, which is based at Shelton State Community College in Taylorville, serves Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties through its efforts. Law enforcement agencies in Marengo County that look to benefit from the grant funds include the Linden Police Department, Demopolis Police Department and the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Department.

Riley awarded the grants to WATSP from funds made available to Alabama by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Alabama department of Economic and Community Affairs will distribute the grant awards to WATSP.