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Agencies ramp safety efforts up for holidays

Local law enforcement and state agencies have recently announced renewed efforts to provide safety for area travelers as the holiday season rolls around.

• The Cole County Sheriff’s Department plans on increasing its DWI enforcement thanks to more state funding.

For 2011-2012, the sheriff’s department was awarded $22,248 in traffic grants.

Of that amount, $8,000 will fund five sobriety checkpoints, $6,248 will be used for hazardous moving violation enforcement and $8,000 will go to DWI enforcement.

The grant period runs through Sept. 30, 2012.

The current sheriff’s sobriety checkpoint program was started in July 2006 with 15 checkpoints.

So far in 2011, Cole County has seen five alcohol-related deaths on area roads.

The sheriff’s checkpoints are funded by the Missouri Division of Highway Safety and use paid deputies, volunteer reserve deputies, volunteer Sheriff’s Posse members and members of area fire protection districts.

Though Nov. 9, there have been 637 traffic fatalities in Missouri.

In 2010, there were 821 deaths, the lowest amount since 1950. Of those, 385 were not wearing seat belts.

• The Jefferson City Police Department will join efforts with other law enforcement agencies from around the state on Friday for an aggressive “Click it or Ticket” mobilization to crack down on Missouri’s safety belt law violators and to reduce highway fatalities.

About 79 percent of Missourians buckle up regularly.

• Missouri transportation officials are concerned because after just nine months in 2011, the number of pedestrian traffic deaths is nearly equal to those experienced in 2010.

During the first quarter of 2011, 21 pedestrian deaths were recorded, compared to nine during the same period in 2010.

These incidents occurred in urban and rural areas, on highways and city streets, during the night and in broad daylight. Those killed included people crossing the road or walking along the side and those who exited their vehicle after an earlier crash and were struck by other traffic.

By the end of September, 54 pedestrians died as a result of a traffic crash. In all of 2010, there were 57 similar fatalities.

In light of these figures, MoDOT has launched a safety campaign, “Be Safe. Be Seen” to remind pedestrians and motorists to look out for each other.

“If I say ‘pedestrian,’ you tend to think of someone out for exercise or kids walking to school,” said Leanna Depue, MoDOT highway safety director. “But a pedestrian is any person near or on a roadway who is not in a vehicle or on a motorcycle. For example, someone changing a tire on the side of the road is a pedestrian.”

“Stay alert to the traffic around you and don’t expect that vehicles will yield,” said Depue. “Make yourself visible — especially if your car is disabled. Turn on the headlights and hazard lights.”

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