A $37,000 grant will allow Northern York County Regional Police to offer youths a hands-on program that teaches them about the dangers of impaired driving.

"When we saw this program, we thought it looked like something kids will be excited to try," Chief Mark Bentzel said of the Smart Decisions Prevent Collisions with SIDNE program.

The program centers on a go-kart that students use to navigate a driving course, "and we will have the ability, through a handheld device, to simulate a person driving while impaired," the chief said. Basically, police can manipulate the steering and braking on the go-kart while students are driving it, according to the chief.

"This type of education can make a real difference in our community by saving lives and reducing injuries," Bentzel said. "We're always looking for ways to better educate our young people about the dangers of driving while impaired. It seems like the program has the potential to be a fun, interactive, educational experience for the kids."

Northern Regional Police submitted a grant proposal to the York County Community Foundation's Memorial Health Fund to cover purchasing the program and technical support for it, the chief said. The foundation's board of directors on Oct. 26 approved a $37,074 grant to the department to purchase the program, according to police.

Bentzel said his department hopes to launch the program this spring.

"We arrest a lot of people for driving while impaired," he said. "Over 10 percent of those arrests involve people under the age of 21."

The hope is that the program will, over the long term, reduce those numbers, he said. The new program will be incorporated into the department's driving programs for students and seniors, and it also will be offered during community events such as National Night Out, according to police.

"We're really excited to get this program going," Bentzel said.

For more information on SIDNE and its programs, visit

To see a promotional video of the program, visit Northern Regional's website.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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