by Hyuntae Byun
SafeRides is a student-run service designed to prevent drunk driving among students living in the Los Gatos area, although it mostly caters to LGHS students. This year, it celebrated its 10-year anniversary, an occasion made more special by the fact that since SafeRides’ inception, there have not been any incidents of drunk driving-related death among LGHS students.
SafeRides operates with the support of student and adult volunteers. Every Friday afternoon, student volunteers meet at Cafe Hope at the United Methodist Church at 9:30 PM. For the next three and a half hours, they wait by a landline for any calls. Of course, the shift can get boring, so volunteers frequently pass the time by sleeping, chatting, doing homework, playing games, or watching movies.
Nevertheless, volunteers are essential to the operation of SafeRides. Although there is a common myth that SafeRides volunteers must be drivers, driving is actually only a requirement for one of the types of volunteers that SafeRides utilizes. There are dispatchers, who receive phone calls from students and transmit incoming information to drivers. There are navigators, who assist drivers in finding addresses. Lastly, there is always at least one adult volunteer supervisor and a student SafeRides board member on duty to make sure that the shift goes as planned and without problems.
Due to the constant need for volunteers, SafeRides makes it an annual priority to train potential student and adult volunteers. This year, SafeRides has trained 43 students, exceeding their goal to train 40 new student volunteers. However, SafeRides still needs to meet its adult volunteer goal of training 20 adults, as it has only trained four adults. Attendance at a training session is mandatory for all potential student and adult volunteers.
SafeRides has a long history that originates from a tragic event. In 2004, there was a drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of a Los Gatos student who had been drinking at a party on a Friday night. Subsequently, a friend of that student teamed up with one of the teachers at LGHS and offered free rides home from parties on Friday nights to help prevent further accidents, leading to the creation of the entire SafeRides program.
So far, SafeRides has kept true to its purpose. Last year, SafeRides received a total of 77 calls and served 134 students. SafeRides can be reached on Fridays from 9:30 PM to 1AM at 1-888-550-RIDE.