One of a parent’s worst nightmares involves a teen becoming inebriated and getting behind the wheel of a car. One local non-profit group is doing what it can to minimize situations just like that one — and there’s no better time to recognize the importance of these volunteers than the holidays.
Santa Clarita Valley Safe Rides is an organization enabling teens to help other teens by, literally, steering their peers from the dangers of drunk driving by offering them rides.
Volunteers stand by for free rides on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Use of the service remains confidential. SCV Safe Rides offers the following suggestions for those choosing to use the program: Call as early as possible, give good information about your location, and wait for a call back.
The idea for Safe Rides stemmed from the community of Darien, Connecticut when they lost seven teenagers in DUI traffic collisions in one year. The local chapter was formed in 1986 after Santa Clarita saw the tragic deaths of six teens in alcohol-related traffic collisions over approximately a year’s time.
On Friday and Saturday nights, teen volunteers and an adult supervisor meet in the Safe Rides headquarters, where teenagers act as dispatchers. Other teens are paired into coed driving teams—a driver and navigator—and give the caller a ride using their own family’s vehicle. Drivers are reimbursed for gas.
SCV Safe Rides is primarily student organized and operated. Adults simply support and supervise. Students in grades 9-12 who are at least 15 years old may volunteer for SCV Safe Rides. It requires a training session and attendance at monthly meetings. Trainings are held twice a year and include drug and alcohol awareness, plus navigation tools, as well as safe driving instruction.
Adult volunteers are an essential part of Safe Rides, as all activities must be supervised by trained adults. There are ways local adults can get involved in the program. There are fundraising efforts to support, an annual recognition banquet for drivers, and supervisors are needed in the office while teens are driving callers. According to the SCV Safe Rides website, to be an adult volunteer, you must be at least 25 years old, available one Friday or Saturday night every 4-6 weeks until 2 a.m., and you need to like teenagers. To become involved, email SafeRides@socal.rr.com.