The Drive Safe Program

In 1997, as a method of preventing teen-related car collisions in the Santa Clarita Valley, Frontier Toyota launched the "Drive Safe" Program with participation from Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and other local community businesses and organizations. The program encourages responsible driving among teens and discourages driving or being a passenger in a car in which the driver is tired, intoxicated, speeding or dangerously distracted.

Each of the program's participants, Frontier Toyota, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Santa Clarita Valley's " Safe Rides" ( a teen volunteer program started by Penny Upton and Betty Oldfield to provide teens with free, confidential rides home Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and the Signal ( the publication spotlights the program in print during graduation week), have undertaken important roles in promoting the "Drive Safe" program's important mission to save lives.

"I would like to think that there are teens in the community who are around because they listened to the "Drive Safe" Message," said Frontier Toyota's Controller and "Drive Safe" program participant Mac Middleton.

Among the components of the program is "Trauma Nurses Talk Tough," which sends Henry Mayo's trauma nurses to driver's education classes at local high schools to show graphic images of car crashes caused by teens. The presentation of images is followed by a candid discussion about what students can do to prevent collisions.

During the discussions with students, Henry Mayo's trauma nurses convey what parents must go through when they learn that their child is either a victim of a crash or the cause of it, said Henry Mayo's Clinical Education Specialist Teri Sullivan. "It's the worst thing in the world to tell a parent that their child has died," said Sullivan, who witnessed numerous tragedies as a nurse with background in emergency medicine.

Henry Mayo trauma nurse Michelle Schaefer, RN, is committed to delivering the message of safety by speaking candidly with students about the importance of safe and responsible driving.

"We not only discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but other dangerous behaviors such as road rage, speeding, using cell phones and other distractions that may cause car collisions," Schaefer said.

The "Drive Safe" program also includes "White Ribbon Week," a pre-graduation program in remembrance of the local teens who have lost their lives in auto collisions. As part of the program, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Tony Arnold from the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station attends local high school pre-graduation rehearsals to relate statistics about fatal car collisions and to provide students with ribbons attached to cards listing the names of local students who have lost their lives in car collisions in recent years. Arnold asks seniors to wear the ribbons during graduation ceremonies in memory of those who have lost their lives in car collisions.

"It's a great feeling after graduation when a teen say's 'I didn't get in the car because I heard you speak," Arnold said.

Through the "Drive Safe" program and "Safe Rides," which has provided more than 15,000 safe rides to teens in the Santa Clarita Valley since the program's inception in 1986, many teens are encouraged to think ahead before placing themselves in potentially dangerous situations.