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Hall entering last year of nearly $500K grant targeting traffic deaths, crashes

Hall County is in the last year of a three-year grant of almost $500,000 targeting traffic deaths and crashes.

The presentation was made Monday during the Hall County Board of Commissioners’ work session to approve the application and accept the $178,749.89.

“We have to reapply every year. The grant was for the total amount for three years. … You have to meet the requirements each year and reapply for the next year,” said Hall Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Todd Casper, who oversees the traffic unit.

The grant was announced in January 2017 for $497,233.02 from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant funded three officers’ salaries, benefits and fully-equipped patrol vehicles for each. The county has received grant money since 2016.

Two units are with the sheriff’s office and one is with Gainesville Police. The grant came after Hall County saw 71 traffic deaths in the preceding 25 months.

“It is designed to be a program to adjust a problem, and it kind of phases itself out over a few years,” said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood.

Casper said the program has exceeded expectations in terms of providing awareness and educational events in the community. The county has also seen the numbers decrease over the past three years in total wrecks, wrecks with injuries and wrecks with fatalities.

There were 7,081 crashes in 2017, down from 7,543 incidents in 2015. There were also 114 fewer crashes with injuries when comparing 2017 to 2015.

Blackwood said some counties such as DeKalb and Henry have stayed with the program for a long time.

“The only thing that happens now is it drops down to 80/20. Eighty percent from us, 20 percent from them, and it scales on down,” he said.

There is also the potential to apply again, Blackwood said.

Crashes in Hall County

                        2015      2016      2017
Total                 7,543  7,274    7,081
Injury               1,684   1,583    1,570
Fatality               32     32        29