ALBANY, Ga. -- Speeders, drunken drivers and other highway aggressors take heed. The Dougherty County Police Department's H.E.A.T. unit just got a $15,700 grant to help keep you off the streets.
The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety awarded the grant as part of its Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) programs.
The program's goals include reducing impaired driving crashes, reducing speeding, increasing the use of seatbelts and increasing the public's knowledge about traffic safety.
"I like to think of the E in H.E.A.T. as also standing for education," said police Lt. Tom Jackson, Dougherty's H.E.A.T. supervisor. "Every violator we stop we give a personal educational pamphlet or other item explaining why it is best to adhere to the laws."
The approach must be working. A news release from the Governor's Office on Highway Safety stated, "Alcohol/drug related crashes with injuries or fatalities decreased 36 percent in Dougherty County for fiscal year 2009-2010."
Seatbelt usage has gone up through the "Click It or Ticket" campaign resulting in an 89 percent increase of safety belt enforcement since the unit's inception in 2005. Speed-related crashes with injuries or fatalities remain a priority with the Dougherty police. There has been a 42 percent increase of speed enforcement contacts since 2005.
More than 5,570 people received traffic safety materials through the H.E.A.T. program in fiscal year 2010.
Along with presentations at elementary schools, to church groups and at job fairs, the police have become involved with teen drivers through P.R.I.D.E. -- Parents Reducing Incidents of Driver's Errors.
"The presence of H.E.A.T. units significantly increases public awareness and acts as a deterrent to many would-be impaired drivers," said Bob Dallas, director of the governor's office. "We know from experience that H.E.A.T. teams like the Dougherty County Police are an effective way to maximize our deterrent efforts."