The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) awarded $5.7 million in grant funding to more than 200 police departments for enhanced traffic enforcement. Departments will use the funding to conduct overtime patrols and carry out strategies aimed at curbing dangerous and reckless driving.
Most of their efforts will take place during targeted enforcement campaigns, which coincide with some of the deadliest times of the year to be on the road, such as the holiday season and Labor Day. While officers will be on the lookout for all traffic violations, their focus will be on addressing some of the leading causes of fatal crashes including impaired driving, speeding, distracted driving and lack of seat belt use.
According to the latest statistical projections from NHTSA, 20,175 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in the first half of 2022, up slightly from the previous year. Despite the discouraging report, traffic fatalities decreased by 4.9% in the second quarter of 2022 – signifying the first year-to-year decline since the start of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what statewide data is showing in Indiana, as fatalities continue to rise. As of October, ICJI estimates that 814 people lost their lives in fatal collisions this year. While that’s up 2.4% from the same time in 2021, it represents an 18.5% increase from pre-pandemic 2019.
The rising number of crash-related deaths can be attributed, in part, to an increase in unsafe driving behavior such as speeding, driving impaired or distracted, and not wearing seat belts, according to ICJI.
The grants were awarded last month using federal NHTSA funds. The largest amount went to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at $1.3 million, as urban areas, like Marion County, continue to see the largest increase in fatal crashes.
The first campaign of the program, Safe Family Travel, kicks off next week and is designed to cut down on impaired driving and promote seat belt use during the busy holiday season, followed by a St. Patrick’s Day-focused enforcement operation in March.
Area departments receiving funding:
Kosciusko County, $81,950
Winona Lake Police Department* (TSP)
Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department
Claypool Police Department
Mentone Police Department
Milford Police Department
Pierceton Police Department
Silver Lake Police Department
Syracuse Police Department
Warsaw Police Department
Cass County, $13,000
Cass County Sheriff's Department* (TSP)
Logansport Police Department
Marshall County $55,550
Marshall County Sheriff’s Department* (TSP)
Bremen Police Department
Bourbon Police Department
Plymouth Police Department
Culver Police Department
Argos Police Department
Wabash County Sheriff's Department, $15,000
Wabash Police Department, $15,000
North Manchester Police Department, $10,000
Miami County Sheriff's Office, $4,500