Santa Barbara County recently received a $307,400 grant to implement an anti-drunk driving campaign aimed at preventing alcohol-related car crashes around UCSB and SBCC.

According to a recent press release, the state Office of Traffic Safety awarded the grant to the California Highway Patrol to fund alcohol and drug abuse education programs in the UCSB area. The CHP is joining forces with local and state police departments and UCSB and SBCC administrators to implement the new safety program, dubbed “Separate the Keys from the Keg.”

The grant money, which has also been awarded to law enforcement agencies at Humboldt State University, is part of a statewide effort by CHP to reduce the number of university students killed and injured as a result of drinking and driving. According to the press release, the program will specifically aim to educate students and Isla Vista community members to avoid driving under the influence. The money will also be used to increase officer patrol around UCSB highways and boost law enforcement in the area.

“This grant is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of college-age students,” CHP spokesperson Don Clotworthy said. “No parents of UCSB students should get the knock at the door informing them that their child has been involved in a alcohol-related car crash.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisors Brooks Firestone, Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal and state Assemblyman Pedro Nava will speak at a CHP press conference tomorrow in Embarcadero Hall to introduce the new program. In addition, UCSB Dean of Students Dr. Yonie Harris and Associated Students President Jared Goldschen are expected to be in attendance, along with representatives from the CHP, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, UCPD, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the State Office of Traffic Safety.

According to the CHP press release, 19 college-aged people were injured in DUI collisions on roadways surrounding the UCSB campus in 2005. That same year, one UCSB freshman was killed in a drunk driving accident.

Clotworthy said although these numbers are not unusually high, he believes the program is still extremely important because one dead student is one too many. He said the law enforcement agencies in charge of the grant money are not comparing these statistics to other cities, but using them as a guideline for improvement.

Clotworthy said the campaign, which will be implemented over the next two years, is not just an attempt to make college students stop drinking.

“The programs are not designed to reduce drinking, but instead minimize the potential of drinking and driving,” Clotworthy said.