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Dylan's Driver wants you

Paul Allen, Executive Director of Dylan's Drivers
Paul Allen, Executive Director of Dylan’s Drivers

Dylan’s Drivers, the program designed to prevent drunk driving by giving people free rides home, has given just over 3,600 rides since it was launched here two and half years ago. The service is non-judgment and fun and is available Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to 3am. However, the program is now examining whether or not to continue Thursday service due the inability to get volunteers to work the shift despite having hundreds and hundreds of trained volunteers.

“It’s just a difficult night for volunteers. They have school or work the next day and that makes it tough,” said Ronnie Ballard, chairman of the Dylan’s Drivers board. When asked if there were enough rides given on Thursday night to justify it, Paul Allen, executive director responded, “Yes, we give 6 to 10 rides on average on Thursday nights, it’s just that we are always scrambling around to line up Thursday night volunteers and a lot of times we don’t get commitments until that day, or worse Ronnie and Vickie [Ballard] have to step up again. There’s a need for Thursday night volunteers, we just need to train more or have those that are trained willing to step up on Thursday nights. Otherwise, we risk not being able to do it.”

Despite scheduling challenges for Thursdays, the success of the program continues to grow. At the recent board meeting Allen announced that the average age rider continues to drop. While Dylan’s Drivers is completely anonymous, it does try to keep track of two statistics, the location where rides are originating from, and how old the rider is (even if it is a guess by the volunteers). The average age this past month was 26, the youngest average since the service was launched.

This statistic is very important to the organization for many reasons, but most specifically since the program’s namesake Dylan Ballard was a teen when he and his three friends were in a deadly alcohol related crash that killed Ballard and another teen. Another recent alcohol related accident that left two teens dead caused much reflection by the board and its founders. “We know we are doing the right thing,” said one board member. “We have kept 3,600 people from getting behind the wheel that clearly knew they shouldn’t, so that’s great. But we have to better get our message to the younger kids.”

Dylan’s Drivers knew that gaining the trust of underage drinkers was going to be a challenge from the very beginning. Walker Clark, son of founding board member Mary Clark, told her when she first posed the concept to him, “Mom, if parents are the ones coming to pick you up, nobody is going to call.” It is for this reason that Dylan’s Drivers keeps putting out the message over and over, “It’s safe, it’s anonymous, and it’s non-judgmental.” The number one thing the organization cares about is getting those kids home safe. Over time, the message will resonate among the teenagers. Until then, Dylan’s Drivers keeps on giving rides home.

Dylan’s Drivers has also been voted a finalist in the Safeco Insurance “Make more happen” contest, winning $3,000. It is now in the finals to win $10,000. You can help. Click the link below and vote for Dylan’s Drivers. It takes less than 10 seconds and Dylan’s Drivers could win $10,000. http://www.safeco.com/about-safeco/community/make-more-happen-vote?dc=MMHDylansDrivers 

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If you are willing to be a volunteer, especially if you can help on Thursday nights, contact Paul Allen at Dylan’s Drivers paul@dylansdrivers.org.

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