As a senior at Texas A&M University, Jeff Schiefelbein created one of the most innovative and effective designated driver programs in the nations. Jeff’s idea for the program began after he received a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) citation in 1997.
Jeff researched other safe-ride programs and began to think of a unique approach that would attract college students. He continued to plan and strategize for about nine months and created CARPOOL – Caring Aggies R Protecting Over Our Lives. Prior to its “kickoff” he collaborated with students, faculty, administration, local authorities, and sponsors to create a network capable of supporting such a task. Jeff spent an average of 60 volunteer hours per week working on CARPOOL, and now, after two years, Jeff has gained the full support and trust of the students and staff at the University.
Each semester, 255 student volunteers make a commitment of their time on weekends to CAR POOL. Before participating, each volunteer member undergoes a 6-hour training program designed by Jeff. It includes alcohol awareness, defensive driving, and first aid. From its inception, it has included both freshmen and upperclassmen in its leadership positions. As Jeff prepares to graduate, there are 20 other experienced student volunteers ready to take over. They will also have the assistance of a 100-page Operational and Risk Management Manual for CARPOOL.
Jeff sponsored sponsors to offset one-half of CARPOOL’s $100,000 annual budget with in-kind donations, including free cell phones, a free apartment for headquarters, discounted rental rates for vehicles, free cable advertising, and free training. He also travels to cities throughout Texas to publicize his cause.
CARPOOL has been an overwhelming success. It is completely student-run, is nonjudgmental, and is available for both intoxicated and sober students in need of a safe ride home. One male and one female volunteer are in each car to assure the safety of the passengers. Rental vehicles are also used so each vehicle is clean, new, and in good repairs. CARPOOL is free to use and it operates from 10 p.m. to 3a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights during the fall and spring semesters. They average 100 safe rides each night. Now, in its fourth semester, CARPOOL has already given over 11,000 safe and sober rides home. For more information on CARPOOL, visit the CARPOOL Web site.