After 32 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, Safe Rides has officially ceased operations.
As an alternative to drinking and driving, or riding with an unsafe driver, Santa Clarita Valley Safe Rides has been offering teenagers a safe, free and confidential ride home every Friday and Saturday night for the past three decades.
Several factors led to the decision to cease operations, according to a news release. Among them is the rising cost of insurance and restrictions on teenage drivers. There are also more rides services available and teenagers aren’t using Safe Rides.
The last night of operations was Dec. 15.
Santa Clarita Valley Safe Rides was founded on Dec. 19, 1986, by Penny Upton and Betty Burke Oldfield after six local teenagers died in the previous 18 months due to alcohol-related collisions.
During the first 15 years of Safe Rides, the number of local teen fatalities, related to drinking and driving was reduced by 95 percent. Then other programs such as Every 15 Minutes presented to high school students reinforced the dangers of driving under the influence and helped keep those lower fatality numbers in place.
Safe Rides and its dedicated volunteers have been acknowledged and lauded for their contribution that made our community roads safer for everyone, by school faculty, as well as city, county and state officials.
Penny Upton, who has been running the program since its inception, said, “Safe Rides would not have been possible without the enormous support from the community. Thank you to everyone for helping us save lives.”
Over the years, Safe Rides has provided volunteer opportunities to more than 5,000 teens and driven 400,000 plus miles to provide more than 40,000 teens a safe ride home.
Koren Young volunteered for the program for five years as a teen and six years as an adult supervisor. “It’s a bittersweet moment for us. The volunteers enjoyed getting together every weekend and really felt like they were making a difference in their community,” he said.
Planning is in the works for an event to recognize volunteers and reunite with past members to celebrate 32 years of saving lives.