COLORADO SPRINGS — The Drive Smart Colorado program is losing its Executive Director, Maile Gray. She is retiring after 27 years of offering traffic safety education. "Never did I think I would still be here and even more engaged and more passionate than I was back then," said Gray. He departure also raises questions about the future of the program.
The sole purpose of Drive Smart is traffic safety education. "You can effect change and change driving behavior and save lives," said Gray. She says the topic of traffic safety is simple, but, getting it into the minds and habits of people is the challenge.Drive Smart programs coordinate with law enforcement education efforts. It also leads the High School Traffic Safety Challenge that now enlists students at 32 high schools. Thousands of new parents have gotten training on how to properly install a car seat. "You know that when they leave, that baby is literally 100% safer than when they came in," said Gray. There are also programs helping senior citizens stay safe while driving.
Drive smart follows traffic trends closely. Tragedies can be quantified. Drive Smart success, however, does not show up in data. "I will never know if a person I gave a message to, to wear their seatbelt or whatever, if that stopped them from being killed or injured." There are people who occasionally recognize Gray and tell her they follow Drive Smart advice.
Gray says she may be retiring, but she will continue sharing the Drive Smart message. “The one I’ve been saying for 27 years, buckle your seatbelt, drive respectfully and responsibly.”
With Gray’s departure the program could be in jeopardy. The pandemic has hindered finding a replacement. It also hurts funding. The program is funded by grants. Money has been harder to secure during the pandemic. The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is looking for options to keep Drive Smart Colorado viable.