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'Safe ride' program for teens ends

Original post made on Aug 17, 2012

A Red Cross program that offers "safe rides" to intoxicated teenagers on Friday and Saturday nights has been suspended due to lack of funding and dwindling volunteer power.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 17, 2012, 2:37 PM

Comments (16)

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Posted by A Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

As a parent I still tell my Of-Drinking-Age-Son to call me if he, or friends, are too intoxicated to drink. Anytime. Anywhere.

This is an amazing program that provides a service to our young people...I would like to find out what is needed.

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Posted by Marta
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm

This is a shame. I will gladly drive a teen home if they've been drinking. I'd like to know what is needed too.
My kids who are well out of their teens know they can call me anytime for a ride.
It was a wonderful program and should not be taken away. Who knows how many lives it has saved...

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Posted by taxis
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Taxis are cheap. Any business or private party serving alcohol should have a list of taxi company phone numbers to hand out to anyone who appears to have been drinking. Parents need to drill safe driving into their kids heads, including how to call a taxi.

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Posted by Call-A-Taxi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2012 at 8:04 am

> taxis are cheap ..

Absolutely! And they are "confidential", too:

Web Link

> A Red Cross program that offers "safe rides"
> to intoxicated teenagers

Seems that the local RC is facilitating illegal activity for teens. It's no wonder that our children are growing up with no sense of propriety, or understanding of what's right and wrong.

If these kids are old enough to drink, they are old enough to tuck $20 away for a cab ride, and they are old enough to walk home if they spent their "last 20" on booze or drugs.

This is another of those programs that fails to seed "core values" in our kids. Also makes one wonder how many local parents are indifferent as to where their teens are on Fri/Sat nights at 2AM?

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Posted by Cornelia
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

My son was a volunteers in the program, when he was at Paly.I am convinced that the experience was also an exceptional lesson for him about the effect of excessive drinking. He has been always very conscientious, even in his college years. Too bad that the program has been terminated.

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm

@Call A Taxi
It's not up to the red cross to teach or reprimand our kids (or seed core values) - that is our job, as parents. All they did was make sure our kids got home safe.

Personally, (like A Parent above) I also have always told mine to call me anytime and anywhere. We can discuss the reason for the call later.

It's too bad they can't keep it going.

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Posted by T
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

too bad. this was a valuable asset.

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Posted by paly 85
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I was in the first group of volunteers for this program. It was pretty fun, but we didn't get a lot of calls--mostly we ate pizza and watched movies. Still, there were a few safe rides given. I don't think this encourages kids to drink, but rather gives kids a way to get home safe (including the non-driving kids who don't want to get into a car with a drunk driver).

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Posted by Misha
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 21, 2012 at 12:44 am

My daughter was a devoted volunteer at Safe Ride and I am sorry that the program is ending (hopefully just suspended) for lack of volunteers.

I must admit that when she first told me she wanted to help at Safe Ride, I was very concerned about the safety of a young female driving very late at night.

However, she explained to me how carefully the program is structured for the safety of the volunteers and those in need of a safe ride home.

I agree that this experience taught her so much about being responsible and compassionate.

Yes, there were often quiet nights but that too was a good thing.

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Posted by Chloe
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 21, 2012 at 1:11 am

I used to be in charge of Gunn's SafeRide program. It is an extremely thoughtful, well organized and good intentioned program, and it is sad to see that the Red Cross has decided to discontinue their support of such a beneficial program. I know that to finding youth volunteers was never actually a problem, in fact we often had too many eager students willing to spend their weekend nights ensuring the safety of others. Since the reason behind SafeRide's termination is solely a result of a lack of an organization to support the program, I do call upon any able organization with a similar set of ideals to seek a way to continue SafeRide for years to come.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

The one aspect of this idea of youth giving other youth that hasn't been mentioned in the article or the discussion is that it is now illegal for rookie drivers, those under 18 with less than one year's driving experience, to give a ride to a teen passenger. The law is designed to prevent cars of teens behaving recklessly, but it has provided many problems. This is one of them.

Unless of course, the Red Cross, was allowing and condoning teens to break the law.

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Posted by Misha
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Dear Resident ~ Please be assured that the Safe Ride program did not and does not condone breaking any laws. Youth unable to drive others for any reason, including age restrictions, did not drive.

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Posted by A Parent (original poster from 8/17)
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I challenge the City of Palo Alto to continue this program and help keep our young adults safe.

This program does not promote underage drinking, I think Paly 85 bring up a good point...these safe-rides are including the non-driving kids who don't want to get into a car with a drunk driver!

To anyone who is interested in rallying the troops I can be contacted via email:

Anything that keeps our younger generation alive should be a concern for the community. The future is their hands...let's make sure they are around to take the reigns.

Palo Alto has always been a city of community involvement...why are we stopping here just because the Red Cross has pulled out? This city has money to be spent on just these types of programs.

If Gunn High School has the system in place...isn't it now just a matter or organization?

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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The Safe Ride program has also given a ride home to any high school student without a safe way to get home--e.g., if the driver has been taking drugs (alcohol or other kinds)or has been sexually harassing.

The consortium of schools in the program has been extensive, and the program has been educative, for risks that both high-school students and college students face.

Only over-18's have been allowed to drive designated Red Cross cars, and they've each had to be given official clearance by the DMV: their driving record has to be without previous incidents.

The program has been fully insured, as have the drivers, and it has received formal commendation from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The program has provided safety to hundreds of teens directly using the program's service--and to hundreds of other people who might otherwise have been involved in fatal collisions caused by teens driving under the influence.

The program doesn't condone under-age drinking and driving--or any-age drinking and driving, come to that. What it does is to neutralize the danger caused by those teens who make mistakes--their powers of judgement aren't perfect.

A safe ride home, free, and confidential (riders are asked only for the name of their school--never for their names).

Safety and prevention of disaster--these are supplied by the Safe Ride program. So how can the Red Cross claim that the program is beyond its mission??? As for costs, the 10 schools in the consortium surely could split the $12,00 annually between them. And if 200 students are using this service each school year, is that a small number??!

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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Correction of my typo: the Safe Ride program's costs are $12,000 a year, not $12,00 (sic).

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Posted by grateful mom
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I was glad that a safe and confidential ride was available when my kids were in high school. These rides are needed not just when drinking has been involved. Sometimes parties or companions get into activities that aren't comfortable or don't feel safe. Sometimes a date is misbehaving. Sometimes friends want to stay a lot later than feels appropriate.
Safe ride was invaluable and I hope some organization picks it up.

I am proud that the Red Cross kept it going as long as it did, but I totally understand when an organization has to focus on its core mission (preparing and responding to disasters). It's clear this is not an easy decision for them and that they'd like to help transition to another group.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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