Riding Safely

Don’t drink and drive.

That “duh”-inducing advice has been drilled into teenagers’ heads ad nauseam.  From all indications, they listen.  Many do designate drivers.  They often refuse to get in the car with someone who’s been drinking.

But “many” and “often” are not “everyone” and “always.”  Teenagers are human beings.  We all screw up.

Westport CT Safe RidesTomorrow, Westport inaugurates a “Safe Rides” program.  Every Saturday, from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., high school students can call 203-383-9492.  Dispatchers, navigators and  drivers — working out of donated space at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, with an adult supervisor — will give callers safe, confidential rides home.

Nearly 100 Staples students, and several adults, have been trained to run the program.  It is a testament to Alex Dulin, a junior who worked tirelessly since moving to Westport last fall to make it happen.

Safe Rides is not a new concept.  There are programs nationwide, as far away as Alex’s home town of Mercer Island, Washington and as close as Darien.

Westport had one of the first, in the 1980s.  It ended after deteriorating into a free taxi service.

Like any good idea, it has detractors.  Some people say “Safe Rides” implies acceptance of teenage drinking — even encourages it by providing free transportation to drinkers.

But as 44-year-old, abstinence-education-only grandmother Sarah Palin proves, hoping teenagers act a certain way does not always ensure they will.

(There is another scenario:  “Safe Rides” could be used by a teen babysitter uncomfortable with being driven home by a parent who had too many cocktails.  Yep, that happens too.)

Ultimately, every argument against “Safe Rides” fails because of this:  If it saves 1 life, it is worth it.

We’ll never know whose life was saved — whether it was a drunk driver, a passenger, or an innocent person in the other lane.

Nor will we know if the life saved was your child’s.  Or your own.

So write this number down:  203-383-9492.  Give it to every teenager you know.

And thank Alex Dulin and her crew of volunteers for looking out for all of us.

(For more information, contact: saferidesofwestport@gmail.com).

One response to “Riding Safely

  1. Julie Mombello

    We had our first training/info session for Parent Volunteers last Thursday 4/30 and we were thrilled by the group of dedicated, interested and involved parents that came. But we could use more adult supervisors – the more volunteers we have, the fewer mornings we will have to stay up until 2 AM. Right now it looks like we might all have to volunteer maybe 2 or 3 Saturday nights a year – please join us!