The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Disbanding Safe Rides Detrimental to Students

For more information on how to become a youth volunteer for Safe Rides and re-instate it at the school, contact Gabriela Pierre, Youth Services Manager of the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter at (650) 688-0433 or at [email protected].

In the US, one teenager is killed every hour due to someone driving under the influence of alcohol. Circumstances related to drunk driving are the highest cause of death of teenagers in the country.

Safe Rides, sponsored by the American Red Cross, is an organization that directly combats the issue of drunk driving by providing confidential, free and safe rides for teenagers in dangerous situations. In light of this, the fact that the school’s Safe Rides club essentially disbanded is clearly not only unfortunate but seriously detrimental.

The entire Silicon Valley Chapter of Safe Rides was forced to shut down when a volunteer for Safe Rides (not from LAHS) was discovered by local police to lack proper documentation during an accident. As such a situation compromised student safety to an unprecedented extent, Safe Rides disbanded with the intent to address the issue.

While the program has recently started up again, members at LAHS have not returned to chapter meetings nor have they expressed the intent to participate in Safe Rides any longer.

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According to Co-President senior Adi Yogev, Safe Rides members haven’t met for approximately two months now.

“I haven’t heard from [the club presidents] all year,” April Fritz, social studies teacher and Safe Rides club adviser said. “My guess is that they haven’t moved forward with the program.”

Whether it is a lack of interest among the school’s students to re-join Safe Rides or another reason, disbanding the group is an illogical and inconsiderate act as Safe Rides is a valuable group that helps students in times of need.

“I just think that this is really stupid,” sophomore Anastasia Baboulevitch said. “I know lots of people that use Safe Rides and I’m definitely not happy about this.”

The American Red Cross and student volunteers affiliated with Safe Rides have also made it one of their priorities to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence. Thus, the club not only is an entirely student-run organization that benefits people in need, but it is also unique in the spirit of education, volunteerism and leadership that it embodies. This makes it an even greater shame that students have discarded the club and its values so carelessly, and allowed it to disband.

“Safe Rides is really great, one of the best, and I’m shocked that [members] have stopped showing up at meetings,” Assistant Principal Cristy Dawson said.

The school is also privileged to be a part of Safe Rides club. To determine which schools participate, schools need to have a certain number of “Clara Barton points” to stay in the program. Clara Barton points, named after the founder of the Red Cross, are obtained by providing the Safe Ride service and through school coordinators’ meeting attendance.

Schools who fail to obtain the minimum number of points are dropped from the program and replaced, and LAHS is one of few schools that has had enough enthusiasm and charitable spirit to receive this reputable and exclusive honor.

The disbanding of Safe Rides at the school reflects an overarching indifference toward the situations of other students and the lack of willingness to help others, a willingness that the school’s club had prided itself on for years.
While students may be able to find transportation from dangerous situations from other local Safe Rides schools, the discontinuation of Safe Rides at LAHS is still a negative reflection of the school’s ability to be proactive when it matters.

With so many incentives to continue Safe Rides and only vague, unsubstantiated reasons preventing it from restarting, students at the school should invest their time and effort into prioritizing Safe Rides, and thereby safety, again. So vital a club cannot be disregarded, as doing so sets a damaging precedent of indifference.

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