Safe Rides to save lives

Greenwich High School junior Peter Negrea discusses the plan for Safe Rides March 6 with the First Selectman’s Youth Commision. Courtesy of

The Greenwich First Selectman’s Youth Commission (FSYC), with the assistance of First Selectman Mr. Peter Tesei and Greenwich Youth Services Coordinator Ms. Jennifer Byxbee, is developing a plan to reestablish Safe Rides in Greenwich.
The FSYC includes teenagers from Greenwich High School, Greenwich Academy, the Brunswick School and Convent of the Sacred Heart who collaborate to improve the quality of life for all local youth by expressing their concerns about the community.
Alexander Buffone, a junior at Greenwich High School and a member of the FSYC, surveyed 800 Greenwich High School students and discovered that 70 percent have personally known someone who has driven under the influence.
“Safe Rides is a necessary and valuable tool in our community,” Alexander said. “It is crucial for us to reinstate the program before something tragic happens.”
Safe Rides provides teens with anonymous free rides home on weekends to avoid potentially hazardous situations, such as driving under the influence or driving in unsafe situations. In Connecticut, Safe Rides operates in various towns including Darien, Westport, Ridgefield, and Fairfield.
“This program creates a sense of security for both teens and parents that if all else fails, Safe Rides will always be there,” Greenwich High School junior and member of the FSYC Peter Negrea said, according to

Greenwich High School junior Peter Negrea discusses the plan for Safe Rides March 6 with the First Selectman's Youth Commision. Courtesy of
Greenwich High School junior Peter Negrea discusses the plan for Safe Rides March 6 with the First Selectman’s Youth Commision.
Courtesy of

The Red Cross originally supported Safe Rides in Greenwich by providing vehicles and funding. However, the organization dropped sponsorship due to its increased focus on disaster relief.
Local teens who have at least one year of driving experience typically operate Safe Rides vehicles, but due to the cost of insurance, the FSYC needed to find an alternate form of transportation.
The FSYC collaborated with the Transportation Association of Greenwich (TAG), to provide and operate vehicles for the program. TAG provides transportation services for elderly or disabled individuals in Lower Fairfield County.
A teenage boy and girl volunteer for Safe Rides travels in the vehicle with the TAG operator or adult volunteer while other students answer phone calls in the TAG office. 
The FSYC already arranged one successful Safe Rides night February 6 from 10:00 pm until 1:00 am. The commission plans to have three more Safe Rides nights this school year until the program obtains enough funding to operate every weekend.
Three Sacred Heart juniors have volunteered to participate in the next Safe Rides program March 6, and hope to develop a Sacred Heart team of volunteers for upcoming Safe Rides nights April 25 and June 6.
“I’m really excited to volunteer this Friday,” junior Kensi Almeida said. “I think Safe Rides is a valuable organization in our community because it prevents potentially fatal accidents from occurring.”
Students interested in volunteering can email Mr. James Boutelle, Executive Director of TAG, at [email protected], or FSYC member Peter Negrea at [email protected] for more information.
The organization is in need of funding for gasoline, TAG drivers, and insurance for the vehicles. The Greenwich United Way set up a Save Safe Rides Fund. Donations can be made in checks to the Greenwich United Way.
“I believe the resurrection of the program is important because it ultimately saves lives, especially at a time when young people are most vulnerable to make bad choices, and may be reluctant to call a parent,” Ms. Byxbee said.
Teens can call (203) 869-8445 for a Safe Ride Friday, March 6.
– Holly Roth, Staff Writer

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