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Duluth Police given grant to expand Operation Drive Smart

DULUTH -- A state grant will help Duluth Police officers continue a statewide effort to keep teens safe while driving.

The department received a $38,800 grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to present the Operation Drive Smart program at 15 high schools.

Officials kicked off the program at Grayson High School in the classroom, although the expo had to be canceled.

Since the program's inception, more than 100,000 teenagers have participated, and 44 public safety agencies have partnered in the effort to reduce teen crashes, injuries and deaths, a press release said.

The program has become popular, and the Duluth Police Department has received more requests than funding and time allow, the release said.

"Last year, we had to turn down three schools because we used up allowable funding within the grant," Lt. Bill Stevens said. "It's not for a lack of trying on our part. We completed 17 programs with some creative planning and logistics.

The Drive Smart Expo includes stations with a seatbelt rollover simulator, DUI golf cart, county police fire and hospital officials as well as rescue helicopter.