FRANKFORT, KY --- The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety has awarded $185,000 in grant funding to regional agencies engaged in efforts aimed at making state roadways safer.

A special grants presentation was held at the Department of Criminal Justice Training in the Funderburk Building at Eastern Kentucky University. The money will be used to fund efforts to fight dangerous driving and to educate motorists about seat belt use and child restraints, the Richmond Register reported.

Recipients of the grants were the Richmond Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff's Department, the Madison County Health Department and the Department of Criminal Justice and Training.

Seventeen more people have died on Kentucky highways in 2009 than this time last year, according to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. In 2008, there were 826 fatalities on Kentucky roadways. Of those, 70 percent involved people who were not wearing seat belts and 20 percent were alcohol related.

"We are firmly committed to improving the safety in Kentucky communities by providing law enforcement with the necessary resources," said Chuck Geveden, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. "We must attack the problem in the forefront before we risk losing more lives on Kentucky highways."

The Department of Criminal Justice and Training received $80,000 and the Madison County Health Department drew $50,000. The Madison County Sheriff's Department will get $35,000 and the Richmond Police Department will receive $20,000.

Law enforcement divisions can use the funding for overtime enforcement and equipment. The health department will use the money for child passenger safety and safe-community initiatives.