Crowd-Funding SafeRides’ Smartphone App

When SafeRides was first proposed several years ago, there were big concerns.

Giving teenagers free rides home from parties — no questions asked — will encourage drinking!

Kids will use it as a taxi service!

People will join just to put it on their college application!

SafeRides logoThose fears were unfounded. In the years since Alix Dulin and a few friends got the confidential service up and running, it’s become a low-key, but very important, part of local adolescent life.

And, in typical Westport fashion, it’s made a national impact.

Staples parent Isaac Levi appreciated SafeRides — but was surprised its lack of an even rudimentary website made scheduling and operations difficult. In 2009 he and friend Amiel Dabush developed software to schedule drivers, e-mail members, distribute messages and update calendars.

Then they made the system available to every other SafeRides chapter in the country. SafeRidesUS.com makes scheduling and dispatching  easy — and starting a new chapter painless. Over 60 high school and college groups now use the SafeRidesUS software.

But a website is so early 2000s.

So Isaac and Amiel set their sights on the smartphone market.

Isaac Levi

Isaac Levi

With GPS — and all the other stuff iPhones and Androids can do — scheduling volunteers, getting substitutes, dispatching and routing rides, and communicating with riders, drivers and navigators will be cake.

With just one or two swipes, users can ask for a ride, then find out how soon the driver will arrive. GPS will pinpoint where someone needing a ride is calling from if they don’t know (or are too drunk to explain).

Isaac and Amiel funded the initial website themselves. But they figure it will cost $50,000 to get the SafeRides app developed, running and marketed.

Drew Angus — a 2007 Staples grad who admits he “never knew SafeRides existed” — produced a video for Isaac and Amiel. They’re using it to raise money on the crowd-funding site IndieGoGo.

There’s great potential for expanding the app. Bartenders, for example, could prevent patrons from driving home drunk.

But right now Isaac and Amiel are concentrating on raising capital. In Westport, it can take 15 minutes for a SafeRides car to pick up a rider.

Coincidentally, every 15 minutes someone in America dies in a drunk driving accident.

Isaac, Amiel and everyone in SafeRides wants to cut both numbers down.

(To contribute to the SafeRides app, or view the IndieGoGo video, click here.)

5 responses to “Crowd-Funding SafeRides’ Smartphone App

  1. Thanks so much to all Saferides members that are saving lives all over the country.
    Isaac

  2. Saferides is great and the best part was that the NEW safe rides which started again a few years ago was only transporting teens to their home address listed in the school directory as the old safe rides became a shuttle service from party to party. Is this still the policy?

  3. Dan, thank you for writing about this campaign launched by Isaac and Ami. SafeRides of Westport works very hard to insure that we only provide rides HOME to any high school student living in Westport. We still check home addresses in school directories (SHS, GFA and Hopkins). We still wait outside of every house to make sure that each passenger makes it INSIDE safely. And we still do all of this at no charge with complete confidentiality for every rider. Our goal is to reduce drunk driving accidents and provide teenagers with an alternative to driving after drinking. While we in no way condone teen drinking, we do acknowledge that it does happen. We have over 230 student and adult volunteers who provide a community service and make Westport a safer place every Saturday night.

  4. A great concept launched by two great guys, Ami and Isaac.

  5. Safety First!

    What a great program! I think the program would be a success even if the initial concerns were proven to have merit. Wouldn’t bother me if someone worked Saferides for college app purposes or if kids occasionally used it as a taxi service so long as it achieves its main purpose of keeping people safe. If it saves even one life, that outweighs any potential concerns!