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Annual SAFE Ride gears up for Oregon Trail Days
June 19, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Now in its third year, SAFE Ride OTD is ready to provide a safe ride home for anyone who may imbibe a little too much during the Oregon Trail Days celebration.

The service, started by Gering Citizen Publisher Lisa Betz, grew out of a Facebook post that got people commenting about the dangers of drinking and driving.

During the program’s first year in 2012, about 16 volunteers provided 175 rides to people who didn’t want to drive home after partying. And in 2013, some 20 drivers provided safe rides to about 225 people.

Volunteers, who donate their own vehicles and gas to provide the rides, hand out flyers promoting the service during Oregon Trail Days and are also featured in the big parade.

Rides will be offered Friday and Saturday nights between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. “We’ll be handing out flyers with the phone number during many of the weekend’s events,” Betz said. “We’ll also have some people at the local watering holes to offer rides to anyone who needs one. Sometimes people don’t realize they need a ride until someone points it out to them.”

Betz said she still needs volunteers to offer rides during the program. She can be reached at (308) 672-1114.

She added this will also be her final year of organizing the program. “I’m looking for someone who might like to take over this important service for next year,” she said. “I’d like to work with someone who wants to learn how it works. It’s not difficult work, but one of the challenges is to make sure enough volunteer drivers are available so we can handle all the requests.”

Betz said the program has been very positive. People who request rides are appreciative for the service and often tip the driver for the time and gas.

The community service is what encourages the group. “Many people who took advantage of the rides thanked us profusely,” said Betz after last year’s event. “A couple of guys from Denver were so thankful for the water, the pizza and the ride. They thanked us many times for our hospitality. It feels great to help leave a good impression of Gering with out-of-town visitors.”
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