Franklin County has been ranked the 11th most dangerous county in the state when it comes to accidents involving commercial vehicles.
Because of this distinction, the county has received a $288,835 grant, which Sheriff Steve Pelton hopes will make the roads safer for citizens and operators of commercial vehicles.
The grant is part of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Program and will be supplemented by $50,970 from the sheriff’s department.
With the local contribution, the new program will have an operating budget of $339,805.
“Between 2011 and 2015 there were 187 accidents in Franklin County involving commercial vehicles,” Pelton said. “We want to do what we can to make the roads safer for the citizens.”
The sheriff explained the grant money will be used to purchase two new trucks, emergency lighting and uniforms.
The grant requires a three-pronged approach that will include commercial vehicle violation enforcement, education and outreach.
Some of the first areas to be focused on with the most commercial vehicle hazards will be Interstate 44, Highways 50 and 185, and others through the county.
According to MoDOT, in a period between 2011 and 2015 there were 16 traffic fatalities involving commercial vehicles in Franklin County and an additional 38 accidents resulting in serious injury.
Pelton said of the fatalities, only two were the driver of the commercial vehicle.
Much of the grant money will go toward new equipment to allow deputies to enforce and educate.
About one-third of the money, $138,074, will go for two new vehicles, emergency equipment and computer hardware.
Salary for two new deputies, their benefits and any overtime pay will total $164,249.
An additional $29,908 will go toward operational expenses including uniforms, fuel, office supplies and communications.
Finally, just over $7,500 will be spent on professional development and travel expenses.