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UCB SafeTREC Receives $3.94 Million in Grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety

7 separate projects address crucial traffic safety issues for the safety of road users in California.

By Lisa Peterson 

The UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) announced today 7 grants for 2019-20 from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to support crucial traffic safety programs.

“Injuries from traffic crashes should not be an expected by-product of travel. It is critical to work in a multi-disciplinary way to prevent traffic injury. We thank the California Office of Traffic Safety for their leadership in providing grants for educational, data analysis, and outreach programs – all with the goal of improving safety on our roadways,” said SafeTREC Co-director Jill Cooper. SafeTREC is a research center affiliated with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the Institute of Transportation Studies that seeks to reduce transportation-related injuries and fatalities through research, education, outreach and community service.

The $3,940,550 in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety for the period of October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020 will provide support for the following 7 SafeTREC projects:

  1. Tribal Safety Data Collection Project: This project will continue to provide guidance and assistance to improve the quality and quantity of traffic collision data collected on and near tribal areas. SafeTREC will work in collaboration with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) to enhance the capacity of tribal entities to collect crash data and submit this data to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Record System (SWITRS), and use SWITRS data to conduct traffic safety analyses on tribal lands. SafeTREC will also work with tribes with limited enforcement resources and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to build collaborative arrangements for assistance in crash data collection.
  2. Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program (CPBSP): This project features community-based workshops, training and technical assistance on pedestrian and bicycle-related safety best practices. This program targets underserved communities that have higher than average pedestrian or bicycle injury collisions or observed problems; e.g., near-misses, unsafe conditions with high volumes of pedestrians, including older adults and children/youth.
  3. Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS): Funding for this web-based program will include enhancements to improve geocoding and data accessibility. This project will: a) Develop a new software to manually review and geocode the non-geocoded records to provide all SWITRS fatal and injury collisions to be geocoded; b) Review all years of non-geocoded SWITRS data currently available in TIMS; c) Manually geocode any non-geocoded SWITRS after each quarterly data update; d) Add the ability to spatially query collisions by statewide data layers; and e) Continue administering the site, making functional improvements.
  4. CATSIP: California Walk/Bike Safety Website: With this grant, SafeTREC will enhance and expand the reach of the California Active Transportation Safety Information Pages (CATSIP) website by: a) Continuing to provide up-to-date educational resources about pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as new content on emerging transportation modes; b) Increasing the availability and scope of active transportation safety resources for practitioners, local agencies, and other stakeholders; c) Improving the accessibility of resources, laws and policies, and master plans for users; and d) Featuring blogs, videos and stories of success to showcase how communities are making walking and biking safer.
  5. Data Analysis, Technical Assistance, Education, and Outreach to Promote Traffic Safety in California: This grant will allow SafeTREC to employ key strategies to reduce traffic related fatalities and injuries. Major activities will be to: a) Analyze statewide fatal and injury traffic collision data and trends, and research best practices in preventing fatalities and injuries; b) Develop web-based tools and use web resources to help stakeholders maximize the use of data to target traffic safety programs; c) Develop and disseminate information and resources on fatalities and severe injuries in California; d) Provide technical assistance and conduct outreach and educational programs and activities with professional and community stakeholders to increase knowledge and awareness of traffic fatality and injury risk and safety best practices; and e) Educate the next generation of traffic safety professionals.
  6. Complete Streets Safety Assessments: With this grant, SafeTREC will conduct safety assessments in cities with high numbers or rates of pedestrian and/or bicycle related collisions. Complete Streets evaluators will work with cities to analyze safety concerns and develop recommendations to improve safety in those areas.
  7. Street Story: Enhancing Crowdsourced Data for Community Education: For this project, SafeTREC will continue to conduct outreach with community groups, organizations and agencies across California to use the Street Story tool to collect and compile personal experiences information about transportation safety issues. SafeTREC will also: a) Add educational resources to the platform; b) Include features that allow people to report safety issues about new transportation technologies like shared bikes and e-scooters; c) Expand reporting features and data visualizations; d) Translate the platform and materials into Spanish; and e) Provide ongoing technical assistance to agencies or community groups who use Street Story.

Despite national and statewide progress over the last 10 years, there were 3,563 traffic deaths across the state in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Also alarming is the fact that pedestrian and bicyclist deaths that year accounted for nearly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. While everyone is at risk of being killed or injured in an auto collision, certain populations like children, teens, seniors and disadvantaged communities face disproportionate risk. 

"We value our partnership with UC Berkeley SafeTREC as we continue to develop innovative ways to collect data on key traffic safety issues," OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. "It is this proactive approach that is necessary toward meeting our goals of reducing traffic deaths and injuries across California."

Funding for these programs is provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.