Local teens on bad dates, stranded at unruly parties or who cannot safely drive on a given weekend night will soon have a free, peer-organized lift home.
Wilton Safe Rides, based out of the Trackside Teen Center's new conference room, is slated to launch mid-January, just after Wilton High School's midterms. It's being organized by WHS senior JJ Friedman, who continued an effort started last spring by a couple of students who have since graduated.
Friedman said that he is passionate about bringing a Safe Rides program to Wilton because he remembers the pain that gripped the town when WHS junior Matt Shaw died in a car crash in 2003. Friedman's sister was in high school at the time.
"This program allows me to at least do my part to keep that from happening again," Friedman said.
Wilton Safe Rides will be housed at Trackside and already has about 70 student and 20 adult volunteers. They are looking for more adult volunteers, Friedman said, and anyone interested should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to being sponsored by Trackside, which allowed Wilton Safe Rides to get insured by the program's parent organization, Boy Scouts of America, the incoming program was given $750 in start-up funds by local law firm , a donation which covered the bulk of its initial expenses.
"We have kind of a special interest in public safety issues, and we thought, 'this is a program which has been very successful in other communities and would be very beneficial to Wilton,'" said Gregory & Adams Attorney Matt Mason, who is also on the town's Police Commission. Another firm attorney is on the Fire Commission, he said.
Safe Rides will be available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights during the school year. Its phone line will be publicized at the high school the week before the program launches.