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!
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.
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.)