Massachusetts Nonprofit Spotlight: Safe Roads Alliance

This feature is part of a recurring series on Massachusetts nonprofits, through which Boston Mamas Founder + Editor Christine Koh donates her digital real estate in order to shine a light on great work that is happening in this fine state to help those in need. If you work at or know of a fantastic Massachusetts nonprofit worthy of feature, fill out this form!

This month’s spotlight is on Safe Roads Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to saving lives through better driving. The responses below are written from the voice of Safe Roads Alliance President, Emily Stein.

WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND Safe Roads Alliance’S WORK?

Safe Roads Alliance was formed in 2006 as a nonprofit dedicated to promoting safer driving. At the start, our main purpose was to encourage teen drivers to take advanced driver training, as the driver's ed requirements and supervised driving hours were minimal until the law changed in 2010. In the last decade, we developed and launched The Parent's Supervised Driving Program, a free guidebook for parents of teen drivers, and we have also fought for better traffic safety legislation in Massachusetts. We personally know the pain of losing someone to a preventable traffic crash. I lost my father in 2011 because of a distracted driver, and our Board Member's son was killed in 2003, while he was still learning to drive. We work in this field because we want drivers to understand their impact when behind the wheel, and we don't want to see others lose a loved one because of something so entirely preventable. We are proud to be members of the Vision Zero Coalition.

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

Who Does Safe Roads Alliance Help?

We aim to reach drivers of all ages, with special focus on teen and novice drivers and their families. Research has shown that the more involved parents are at this important phase when teens are learning to drive, the more likely that these teens will avoid being in a crash once they are driving independently. Parents also need to remember that they are modeling for their children, who are watching from the backseat. If a parent uses their phone while driving, not only will their teenager notice, but their 3 year old will too. This is why SRA has also spent the last 2 years working with our amazing partner, EndDD.org, to develop a new program for kids in 2nd-6th grade, called "Speak Up for Safety: A Distracted Driving Lesson." This lesson will be piloted in schools across the country this fall, with the help from Horace Mann, and we aim to launch it in February 2020. It will be available at no cost to teachers and administrators.

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

WHAT ARE THE CORE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES OF Safe Roads Alliance?

If you want to see less distracted driving on our streets, please call your State Senator and demand that they push for a hands-free bill to be passed by Sept 26. Urge your Senator to contact Chairman Boncore and Senate President Spilka; these two leaders have the power to get this bill passed right away. If you don’t know who your Senator is, pop your address into the Massachusetts Find My Legislator site. And included here is a 15-second call script; you can literally just read this to the staffer who picks up the phone or to voicemail if a human does not pick up. Phone calls make a huge difference!

We will be holding a press conference and Day of Action on September 26 at the State House if the MA Legislature does not pass a hands-free bill by this date. SRA has been pushing for stronger distracted driving legislation since 2008, and we have come really close to passing a hands-free bill in the past 14 months. But the legislature is slow, and they need to hear our voices if they do not pass the bill in the next 2 weeks. The House conference committee has signed off on the draft, and we are just waiting for the Senate conferees to sign off. Governor Baker has voiced strong support of a hands-free bill since 2017, and he will sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. Please email emily@saferoadsalliance.org for any information regarding this Day of Action. We always welcome more people to share their stories and join our efforts. More updates will be posted here.

15-Second Call Script

Hello my name is [insert name] and I’m a resident of [insert city/town]. I’m calling to urge [name of State Senator] to contact Chairman Boncore and Senate President Spilka and push for a hands-free bill to be passed by September 26. It’s time to put an end to distracted driving!
Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

HOW HAS Safe Roads Alliance MADE AN IMPACT?

Approximately 1.8 million Parent's Supervised Driving Program guidebooks are distributed across the country each year. While we can't measure the exact impact, we believe that our program has helped to reduce the incidence of teen crashes resulting in injury or death. We also have an app called RoadReady, which simply helps teens log their hours of supervised driving before they can get their license. About 40,000 families use this app every day. While it is challenging to state our direct impact without conducting an advanced research study, we do believe that hundreds of thousands of families are safer and better drivers because of our efforts.

WHAT’S AN EXAMPLE OF HOW Safe Roads Alliance HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE?

Our hope is that our legislative efforts for the past 10 years will be all worthwhile once a hands-free law is passed in Massachusetts! Passing a law here is extremely challenging, so once we have a stronger distracted driving law, we feel that Safe Roads Alliance will have made a big difference in making our roads safer for everyone, whether in cars, on foot, or on bikes.

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

Photo courtesy of Safe Roads Alliance

WHAT DOES Safe Roads Alliance NEED MOST RIGHT NOW?

1. More direct connections to school administrators and PTOs!

2. An assistant!

3. Envelopes of money magically arriving in the mail!

Thank you, Safe Roads Alliance, for all you are doing for families in Boston and beyond! If you want to support Safe Roads Alliance, an easy way would be to share this feature. And another great way would be to drop them a donation!