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Driver Services gets major grant for safety

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A state agency geared toward promoting safe driving practices, will be able to continue its efforts in education as a result of a grant from Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) has received funding, in the amount of $95,200 from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. The money, approved by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is earmarked for the state's Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP).

"The program is taught to students in ninth-grade health classes," said Susan Sports, spokesperson for the DDS. "Exposing a soon-to-be student driver to the effects, of using alcohol and drugs while driving as much as possible is very beneficial. They need to hear the message early and often."

ADAP's funding will continue endeavors at the state level, to teach teenagers about the dangers of impaired driving. The ADAP program has been a required element for Georgia drivers under age 18 since 1985.

The DDS issued a written statement Wednesday, regarding the ADAP grant. In the release the agency outlined the process by which the program was put in place, and provisions it includes for teachers.

"DDS revised the student workbooks during Fiscal Year 2008, to reflect changes to Georgia's DUI laws as a result of the passage of House Bill 336," the release stated. "DDS also expanded the ADAP information on the DDS Web site ..., and implemented an online ADAP bookstore, where school administrators and instructors can order ADAP workbooks and instructor kits."

Thus far, approximately 129,635 ADAP students have been electronically reported to DDS for the current fiscal year. According to the release, a portion of the funding from the state will be used to support the online component of the program.

Spencer Moore, deputy director of the GOHS, called ADAP a "key component" of driving requirements in the state. He said the program provides "crucial information" regarding safe driving habits for teens.

"ADAP teaches responsibilities and liabilities behind the wheel, the basic rules of the road, the life-and-death consequences of drinking and drugged driving and the rewards of driving safe and sober," said Moore. "The [GOHS] is a strong supporter of the lifesaving highway safety message ADAP brings to Georgia's newest drivers."

GOHS spokesman, Jim Shuler, praised the governor for continuing to fund ADAP. He said current economic constraints at the state and national levels, serve to underscore the agency's perspective on a "proven" strategy to educate teens. "A lot of programs get cut here and there, because of issues with federal funding," said Shuler. "When a program like [ADAP] is sustained and renewed, you can see how important it is. We're glad to see it being continued."

For more information on teen driving requirements, visit www.dds.ga.gov. For driving safety info., visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.