Police departments across Indiana are sharing in millions of dollars in federal grants intended to help curb reckless driving that’s led to an increase in fatal crashes during the pandemic.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute recently awarded the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department $1.5 million for the effort while Indiana State Police is getting $1 million and nearly 200 other police departments will divvy up a remaining $4 million.
Police will use the money to conduct “zero tolerance” overtime patrols and sobriety checkpoints, mostly during specific enforcement periods, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute said. The first enforcement period will take place around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The announcement of the funding coincided with a data release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on traffic deaths, The Indianapolis Star reported.
That data show an 18.4% nationwide increase in the estimated number of people who died in car crashes, from 17,020 in the first half of 2020 to 20,160 in the first half of 2021. That is the largest half-year increase in the history of NHTSA’s reporting system.
In Indiana, preliminary data from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute show that 683 people had died in car crashes as of early October, which is on par with last year but an 8% increase from 2019.
The institute warns that if the pace keeps up, Indiana could be on track to surpass a record-high 900 fatalities this year, according to Indiana State Police data.