Saferide is a student-operated service that provides free and secure transportation on weekends from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. It helps students reach home within a three-mile radius of the campus who are not able to drive, no questions asked.
Salisbury University students have been riding safely during the late hours of the weekend since Saferide began operating in 1993. The Flyer had a chance to sit down with Ariela, Aubrey, Mia Coyle and Yasmine of the organization to see what has changed since then and what remains integral to the university’s safest way home.
Q: How would you describe Saferide in your own words?
Aubrey: We are an organization completely run and operated by the students, for the students. We aim to provide an anonymous and safe service for anyone who is a student of SU and would like to get a ride home safely.
Ariela: Another thing that Saferide does is that we try to keep the Salisbury community safe as a whole. Not just Salisbury University students, but anyone who lives in the area.
Yasmine: We run within a three-mile radius of the campus. We pick students up from wherever they are and drop them back off at campus or their home location. We don’t drop off to parties.
Q: Why do you feel Saferide is necessary?
Aubrey: Among college-aged kids, drunk or intoxicated driving is a large cause of death and injury. It’s so important to be part of something that does protect people, including the community around us. We want to make sure that we are leaving a positive impact on the people who are local. We don’t want them to have a negative concept of college kids. We want to provide a safe and reliable source for students to be able to get home safely.
Ariela: Especially in this generation, there are ride services run by people we don’t know. While a Salisbury University student in our van may not know us personally, we’re still in the same age range. It’s students from Salisbury and their community who can help them instead of having some stranger drive them around.
Yasmine: It’s free, unlike Uber and Lyft, where riders have to pay. Not everyone can afford that. Some people are honestly scared, but here at Saferide, we’re all students. We’re making sure everyone’s safe. They know that the school is a part of this, so if anything happened, they’d be OK.
Mia: There’s also not a lot of available public transportation for students at night, especially on the weekends. We provide that free service for them to make sure they get home safe.
Q: Do you think other universities should have a service like Saferide?
Aubrey: 100%. I feel like it’s underrated. There’s a huge stigma behind college kids having a good time. We provide something where we don’t ask questions. It’s completely anonymous. We don’t care where you’re coming from, or where you’re going. We’re just there to help. It’s immensely important.
Ariela: There are similar organizations around the United States, so we’re not the only one. Of course, we would like more schools, especially in Maryland, to have the service. A lot of students come to visit Salisbury and say they don’t have Saferide at their own college.
Q: How is safety ensured to those who use Saferide?
Yasmine: For one, it’s anonymous. You call us and we don’t ask you for your name or anything. You get on the van, and we don’t ask for any information. We just want to know where you’re going. We are students, but everyone is certified and goes through the same training and paperwork to work for Saferide.
Ariela: So there’s this misunderstanding among students that we call the police, when there’s actually a partnership between law enforcement and us. An officer can call us if they need us, and we will take care of the transportation. Instead of wanting a student to get in trouble, we can be an officer’s first call. We take all the problems away from them, and make sure everyone gets home safe. A lot of people just think we bust the parties. We’ve had situations where the police officer just needs a kid to get home, so they call us.
Q: How do you feel Saferide could expand or improve in the future?
Aubrey: The only thing that I think would be more beneficial would be an easier way of requesting a ride. We’re still using the old school system where you have to call on the phone. It’s a helpful skill, but no one likes to do it anymore. You could do everything on your smartphone just by clicking an app. I definitely think that’s what hinders us from serving more people. They see Uber and Lyft as a more convenient option because they can see a tracker and how long it’s going to take. If we could improve anything, it would the communication between us and the students. Other than that, I feel like we’re doing everything we need to do.
Ariela: It’s the communication between us and the Salisbury community. At night, they see multiple Saferide vans riding all at once. They think it’s the same one or it’s 50 of us, but in reality, it’s only six. We want to make sure they’re aware of the amount of vans we have. It’s not us wanting us to take 10 or 20 minutes to get to them; we just have other people we have to transport as well. It’s not on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s based on what’s more convenient to our whole route, which varies every night. The whole communication with the students could be improved.
Q: Why should someone join your operation?
Aubrey: You definitely have to have a passion for it. If you are interested in helping your campus community, or raising awareness for driving under the influence, it’s an important program to be a part of. It’s rewarding. It seems like work, but you know how many people you took home that night because we keep tallies in the van. Each individual van takes home 50 to 60 people a night. At the end of the day, you’re saving all their lives in a small way. We all have a personal connection to what we’re doing, and there’s passion behind it.
Ariela: We actually transport approximately 25,000 students within a year. To imagine that broader perspective, that’s how many kids we saved from a possible accident or getting in trouble. The organization’s community involves dedication and awareness. We all have this mindset that we want to stop drunk driving and make sure the students aren’t a part of it.
Aubrey: In the cheesiest way possible, it’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s really rewarding to go home knowing you served your community in that way.
By JACOB BEAVER
Photo from involved@su.