Safe Rides: Baby, You Can't Drive My Car

In Orange County alone, through September, 85 people died in alcohol-involved accidents last year, the California Highway Patrol reports.

From 1982-86, the county has experienced 752 alcohol-involved deaths, with a high of 165 in 1983 and a low of 122 in 1982.

Of course, the simplest solution to the problem of drunk driving is to have someone who is not inebriated do the driving.

Safe Rides, the volunteer program in operation in many schools and communities in Orange County, offers such a solution.

Safe Rides offers a completely confidential ride home to:

Those who are intoxicated to the point that they should not be behind the wheel.

Those who are the passengers of such a person.

Those who are simply in need of a safe ride home.

Safe Rides programs have been in operation in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America since 1981, when the first one was established in Darien, Conn. Now, there are 400 programs nationally with more than 10,000 participants.

The Scouts provide $15 million in liability insurance but ask that each Safe Rides program have a local sponsor, such as a school, hospital or community organization. Pete Diaz, who coordinates the Safe Rides program for the Boy Scouts' Orange County Council, says that in seven years, no claims have been filed against any of the 400 programs.

Only two of the county's Safe Rides chapters offered their services on New Year's Eve. The Irvine chapter, which opened specifically for Dec. 31, had nearly 20 calls, while the Huntington Beach chapter reported over 50 calls, though many were from out of its service area.

Here's a look at the Safe Rides chapters in Orange County:


Phone Number: 730-7508

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Area Served: Attendance boundaries of Foothill High School

For many, calling this chapter--entering its second year of operation at Foothill--is an accepted alternative to drunk driving. "I've been to parties where the Safe Rides number is posted on a big sign for everyone to see," said Jason Constantine, Foothill's student body president. Seventy-five students form the chapter, with eight students and an adult working the hot line each weekend. They average four calls a night.

Huntington Beach

Phone Number: 847-RIDE

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Area Served: Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach and Seal Beach

Anyone, regardless of age, who calls this chapter, which works out of Pacifica Community Hospital in Huntington Beach, will be provided a ride home. The chapter, established in 1985, has 10 students and an adult supervisor working each night, when it averages five calls. While an official school club, its 100 members do not meet on campus.


Phone Number: 559-0466

Days and Hours of Operation: Indefinite

Area Served: Irvine

Irvine's Community Services Department agreed to be a temporary sponsor for this chapter so it could be in operation New Year's Eve, when a dozen students and two adults worked the phones at the Youth Services Center at Heritage Park. Another community group is interested in becoming the chapter's permanent sponsor and is expected to make a decision this month. For further information, call 552-6113.

Laguna Beach

Phone Number: 497-3333

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1 a.m

Area Served: Laguna Beach

The oldest chapter in Orange County (established in 1983), the Laguna Beach Safe Conduct Council is completely student operated. A campus club that involves 75 students, the council operates out of the Grubb & Ellis office on Glenneyre Street each weekend. The six students on duty average three calls a night.

Mission Viejo

Phone Number: 770-3771

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Area Served: Saddleback Valley

Established in 1986, this chapter is composed of 50 members, mostly from Mission Viejo High School. A three-student and one-adult team works out of the Saddleback Community Hospital on weekends. They average two calls a night.

Tri-Safe Rides

Phone Number: 774-2020

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

Area Served: Orange County's 52 parish areas

Servite High School, in February, 1986, started its chapter, expanding it last fall to include Rosary and Connelly high schools. Over 90 Servite boys, 12 Rosary girls and 4 Connelly girls are involved with the chapter, which has headquarters at Servite on weekends. The four student drivers and one adult supervisor receive anywhere from no calls to four a night.

Villa Park

Phone Number: 567-3055

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m

Area Served: Attendance boundaries of Villa Park High School

More than 130 Villa Park juniors and seniors are members of Students Against Drunk Driving, whose chapter's weekend operating base has been the high school since 1983. The chapter, with four students and an adult supervisor each weekend, receives from one to five calls a night.


Phone Number: 893-RIDE

Days and Hours of Operation: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

Area Served: Westminster

Safe Rides is "basically a program consisting of high school students helping other high school students," says Brent Kato, president of the La Quinta High School Key Club, which is involved in this chapter that was established in 1986. La Quinta students joined Westminster High students in 1987 to expand the service area of the chapter, which operates out of the Humana Hospital in Fountain Valley with four students and an adult.

Organizations wishing information regarding the establishment of a Safe Rides chapter should call the Boy Scouts of America's Orange County Council at 546-4990. Other areas in the process of starting chapters include Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, La Habra and San Clemente.

Another Assistance Program: The Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Laguna Beach and San Juan Capistrano areas are serviced by Tim's Taxi, which operates Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There are about 40 students involved, all members of the St. Timothy's Youth Group. The confidential service made its inaugural run Dec. 19. For further information, call 495-4853.

Next Week's Hot Topic: How does one become "popular" in high school?

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World