COLORADO SPRINGS – The Drive Smart Colorado program loses its executive director, Maile Gray. She is retiring after 27 years of teaching road safety. “I never thought I would be here again and even more engaged and passionate than I was back then,” Gray said. His departure also raises questions about the future of the program.
The sole objective of Drive Smart is road safety education. “You can make changes and change driving behavior and save lives,” Gray said. She says the subject of road safety is simple, but the challenge is to get it into people’s minds and habits. Drive Smart programs coordinate with law enforcement education efforts. He also runs the High School Traffic Safety Challenge which now recruits students from 32 high schools. Thousands of new parents have received training on how to properly install a car seat. “You know when they leave this baby is literally 100% safer than when they walked in,” Gray said. There are also programs to help seniors stay safe behind the wheel.
Drive smart closely follows traffic trends. Tragedies can be quantified. However, the success of Drive Smart does not show up in the data. “I will never know if someone I have given a message to, wearing their seat belt or whatever, if it kept them from being killed or injured.” There are people who sometimes recognize Gray and tell him that they are following the advice of Drive Smart.
Gray says she might retire, but will continue to share the Drive Smart message. “The one I’ve been saying for 27 years, buckle up, drive with respect and responsibility.”
With Gray’s departure, the program could be in jeopardy. The pandemic has made it impossible to find a replacement. It also hurts funding. The program is funded by grants. Money has been harder to come by during the pandemic. The Pikes Peak Council of Governments is researching options to maintain the viability of Drive Smart Colorado.