I Promise to those I love...
to NOT Drink & Drive, to NOT Text & Drive, to ALWAYS wear my seatbelt..

News articles and other related stories about The I Promise Teardrop.


I Promise Teardrop
Fox News - OKC
February 2008



The I Promise Teardrop safety program advertised on Lamar Outdoor Advertising billboards 2008.

If you cannot see the video above click here to view.

A Teardrop of Hope
The Education Focus
For the membership of the Oklahoma Education Association • March 2008 OEA
By Kandis West

Karen Benway had a vision. She needed more than just a driver’s license to feel her 16-year-old daughter was being safe behind the wheel. “I just had an innate motherly fear,” said Benway, a physical education teacher at Edmond’s Summit Middle School. “The freedom that comes with driving is a reality and it’s scary.” One night her daughter Jill was out driving with friends and Benway got up and wrote a message. “I promise to those I love … not to drink and drive, avoid reckless driving and always wear my seat belt.” As she was writing those words, she thought of all the tears shed at student funerals, many at the expense of drunk driving or reckless driving. She made a little acrylic teardrop with the words “I Promise” etched on it. She attached a purple ribbon to the symbolic tear drop to hang from Jill’s rear view window. “It was just from mom to daughter, representing her promise she made to me,” Benway said. Suddenly, those symbolic tears became real tears, Benway said. Shortly after she developed the idea for the I Promise tear drops, her 18-year-old nephew was driving drunk and killed his best friend’s 15- year-old little brother.  

Karen Benway’s desire to keep her daughter safe behind the wheel moved her to create an acrylic teardrop to remind teenagers to keep a promise not to drink and drive.


“At the funeral I felt, this is my nephew and he killed a human being. There’s not a mean bone in his body, but he killed someone,” Benway recalled. From then on, she knew the idea was meant to be. She decided to spread a message of hope and prevention, not only to prevent more victims, but also for her nephew. Soon Jill’s friends started asking about the little symbol hanging from her rear view mirror. They also wanted to make promises to their parents. The public schools in Edmond endorsed the idea and started distributing them. She got some attention from local media and the idea has continued to grow. With the help of longtime friend Pat Dunlap, Benway established a website and the I Promise teardrops are available online at www. IPromise.tv. “I didn’t want this campaign to be about a bunch of wrecked cars. I wanted it to be a hopeful message about prevention,” she said.

The I Promise driver safety campaign is different from other safety messages, she said, because the teardrops are intimate and personal. They represent a promise made to someone you love. “It’s not just something on a piece of paper, another parent lecture or finger pointing, it has a real emotional value,” she said. Although drunk driving is a serious concern, Benway wanted to be sure the emblem addressed reckless driving like using cell phones and texting while driving. These are all distractions and distractions can be deadly, she said. The cross country coach and teacher of more than 20 years said she is hoping that the tear drops can be handed out with the purchase of prom tickets. She has hopes the idea will take hold nationwide. “As a teacher, I teach my kids to have big dreams, because we are all full of inspiration,” she said. “I’m shooting for Oprah.”

Life-Saving Keychain
AAA Newsletter
Home & Away / South Dakota - July/August 2008

These two words can change lives: “I Promise.” Written on a keychain, they remind teenagers to drive carefully. A high school track coach, Karen Benway, created the “I Promise” keychain for her teenage daughter. “I just wanted something that she would have with her in the car,” Benway said, “that would always remind her that I love her and am counting on her to be safe.” AAA South Dakota endorses the keychain. Teen drivers are over-represented in traffic fatality statistics—often, all it takes is a little extra thought to do the right thing. The keychain is $8.00 and can be ordered online at www.ipromise.tv or by sending a check to: I Promise LLC, 1505 Concord Ct., Edmond, Okla. 73003. The Web site also describes an “I Promise” teardrop on a ribbon or leather string that can be purchased for $8, but remember, it’s against the law to hang anything from your rear view mirror in South Dakota.

Teacher makes a difference with 'I Promise' teardrops
High school students receive reminder before Saturday night proms

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — From a tragic accident that took the lives of two young men — one killed, the other one sentenced to a life in prison — the “I Promise” safety program in Edmond was born.

“My nephew was driving drunk when the accident took place that took the life of his best friend’s brother,” Summit teacher and Santa Fe Girls Cross Country coach Karen Benway said. “He was a good kid; he just made a bad choice.”

The accident and everything surrounding it was a turning point for Benway. She wanted to make sure she did all she could to keep the people she loves safe when they are driving or when they are with someone else.

Benway is a teacher with a passion for life and the people she loves.

“When my daughter, Jill first started driving I wanted her to be safe, and I made her an ‘I Promise’ reminder,” Benway said. “As the girls on my cross country team started driving I would give them one also.”

What started as an act of love for one person is spreading through Edmond. Benway will speak at an assembly for North High School students today reminding them to not drink and drive, to avoid reckless driving and to always wear a seat belt. Her message is timely, with prom for all three Edmond high schools scheduled for Saturday night.

Hailey Holloway, a junior at North and Edmond’s 2007 Miss LibertyFest Outstanding Teen, volunteered to help with the “I Promise” packaging. With the help of parents and friends, Hailey has been responsible for packaging 600 of the 800 bags that will be given away to students attending prom night at North and Memorial high schools Saturday.

Each student will receive a plexiglass teardrop that represents lives lost with the phrase “I Promise” etched on it to hang from their rearview mirror, a card to sign that says they make a promise to drive responsibly and call for assistance if in need of a safe ride to their destination and a card with contact names.

“The teardrops are dedicated in memory of lives lost due to traffic accidents that could have been prevented,” Benway said. “Such tragedies have deeply affected my life. I wanted to make a difference in the world with the ‘I Promise’ teardrops out of love for our teenagers, our future.”

Hailey said she had been watching an “Oprah” program, and there was a girl named Jackie who had been in a car hit by a drunken driver.

“He was a star football player on his high school team,” Hailey said. “He killed two people, and Jackie was in the car literally burning alive.

“It really made a huge impact on me,” Hailey said. “Oprah said when you get behind the wheel drunk it is not just you. You are putting someone else’s life in danger, and that changes everything.”

Hailey said that moment was a life-changing one for her.

“When I read about the ‘I Promise’ program and Karen’s part in it in The Sun last year,” Hailey said, “I thought it was just a really cool program, and I wanted to get involved in it.”

Hailey borrowed a quote Oprah said that day on her television show and put it on a label going on the “I Promise” card.

The label says, “Life can change in an instant for you and for others. I Promise, — Hailey Holloway.”

North Principal Jan Keirns said she supports the program.

“At North we focus on making responsible choices, and this program goes along with that. With the freedoms that are given comes responsibility,” Keirns said.

TO ORDER “I Promise” reminders go to www.ipromise.tv.

Where to go:

Proms are being sponsored from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday for all three high schools. Their locations include:

Memorial High School: UCO Grand Ballroom

North High School: Will Rogers Theatre on Western in Oklahoma City,

Santa Fe High School: Express Event Center on Northwest Expressway

After Prom Party: Incredible Pizza in Oklahoma City, Midnight to 4 a.m.

Police add patrols

Edmond Police will be out in force Saturday night in anticipation of prom night.

“Saturday night is prom night for all three Edmond high schools, and we will have three extra officers on the roads between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. for driving under the influence enforcement,” said Edmond Police Officer James Hamm.

“Our purpose is to protect high school students going to the prom and after prom activities by keeping the roads safe for them, not to pick them up for DUI,” Hamm said.

The Highway Safety Office is funding the extra officers and the annual prom poster is posted in Sonics and Braums restaurants reminding prom-goers to be safe Saturday night.

I Promise’ program deserves kudos
The Edmond Sun
Published: April 11, 2008 02:52 pm

EDMOND — Edmond parents will send their teenagers off into the night Saturday for what should be a magical evening full of lifelong memories to be made. But underlying the excitement of prom night is the tension from fear for their children’s safety.

Drunken driving tragedies across the nation have become all too common, especially on that fabled night of dancing and celebrating another year of high school almost gone. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, every 31 minutes someone becomes injured or dies due to an alcohol-related car accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 41,000 people each year in the United States lose their lives in traffic accidents.

One local teacher, though, is trying to get Edmond teenagers to think through their choices before considering drinking and driving.

Karen Benway created the “I Promise” safety program, that is now available online nationwide. She, and those who have helped her along the way, have created a small packet that includes a plexiglass teardrop with the words “I Promise” designed to hang from students’ rear view mirrors as a reminder. The students also are given a card to sign stating their promise to not drink and stay safe and an additional card to fill out with contact information in case they need a ride or help.

This year, parents at Memorial and North high schools will know that each of their students attending prom will have had the opportunity to make a promise for their future. The prom committees and parents paid the cost of the packets so that each student obtaining a prom ticket receives the “I Promise” pendant.

It may not seem like much in the way of stopping teenage drinking, but it’s a clever way to get students to at least stop and think through their actions. And that moment of second thought, might be all it takes to save a life.

Benway deserves a huge pat on the back for taking personal tragedy in her family’s lives and turning it into such a wonderful program. This type of caring and concern for others is truly what makes a community something more than just a place to live.

I Promise
By Shirley George
Edmond Outlook Magazine
March 2008

On a mission to spread awareness about driving and safety, Karen Benway—teacher, coach and mother, carries a grand vision for the future. Her influential I Promise Teardrop Program is a safety campaign that has already begun to create a promising impact upon the lives of many teens, parents and adults.

The inspiration for I Promise came to Benway during a sleepless night when she thought about her own life experiences with decision-making and safety and the well being of her daughter.

“I got up in the middle of the night and wrote down everything I envisioned in my mind. I thought about stories of students throughout the community and in my own life and I got to thinking of all the tears shed. I wanted my daughter to think twice about the simple issues—about putting her seat belt on and being a cautious driver,” she explained.

The teardrop, inscribed with the words, “I Promise,” is designed to hang from the car’s rearview mirror, symbolizing the promise to not drink and drive, to avoid reckless driving and always wear a seatbelt.

“It’s a real promise that’s hanging in front of them,” said Benway. A pledge card accompanies the teardrop and a contact card allows drivers to list the names and numbers of individuals to call in case of emergencies.

With celebrity DUIs on the rise, alcohol use among teenagers has also increased, raising the risk for drunk-driving related incidents and sparking the need for positive role models to promote healthy decision-making. 

“The reason for the program is that we are losing way too many people in this world,” said Benway. “The teardrop represents reality. When you’ve sat through funerals where lives and situations could have been prevented, you begin to see where the passion behind it is coming from.”

Benway hopes for the message to reach not only teens, but also adults. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, someone is killed every 31 minutes and injured every two minutes as a result of an alcohol-related crash. High-risk groups include people of all ages who are guilty of driving while intoxicated, using a cell phone or text messaging.

“I’m making the promise to my own kids and the connection should be made both ways. I have a teardrop for myself and my daughter and she sees that I’m going to keep my promise too. The teardrop is a constant reminder of the lives lost. It’s not just about drinking, it’s also about wearing seatbelts and not using cell phones while driving,” expressed Benway. 

Parent, Brenda Smith of Edmond also carries the best interest of her family at heart when it comes to safety. “Years ago I gave my children visor clips as a “drive safely” reminder, but now I’m giving them, and my teenage granddaughter, a teardrop promise because it’s much more visible and [makes it] impossible to get behind the wheel without noticing it. The teardrop promise says ‘I love you.’ The more impressions it makes in their minds, the more safety awareness it creates.” 

With growing support from school districts, teachers, parents and the Edmond Police Department, Benway wishes to convey the positive message to communities nationwide and contribute to organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and V.I.P. (Victims Impact Panel).

Benway’s friend, Pat Dunlap, has been a driving force in the success of I Promise. Dunlap’s media expertise has opened the gateway to reaching individuals everywhere through the program’s website, ipromise.tv. The site contains video documentaries of teens and adults involved with the campaign, in addition to testimonials, statistics and a place to order the I Promise teardrop for a friend or loved one.

Benway and Dunlap encourage parents to watch the videos with their children to open a bridge of conversation to discuss important and valuable life changing lessons. “Our target is young drivers to old [drivers] and everything in between,” said Dunlap. “We can’t let a minute go by without helping people make good decisions.”

While the program is still in its early stages, Benway and Dunlap have been transformed by the experience thus far. Dunlap, the father of two young drivers, recently had the opportunity to talk with his son who has agreed to make the promise. “It’s meant the world to me and it really helps kids handle the peer pressure,” he said. “To me the teardrop means that I’ve made a promise to myself and my family.”

Benway too has witnessed stories of students who admit that they think twice about getting in the car if they are in not in a responsible condition to drive when they see the I Promise teardrop hanging from their mirror.

“I think it’s a passionate ideal between a parent, child or anyone,” she said. “They are making a promise to themselves to not take the road that leads to destruction.”

“I absolutely think that this can change lives. If it changes one person’s life, then it’s worth all the time that I’ve put into it,” Dunlap said. “Things like this are preventable when taking a proactive approach. It’s in that spirit of being proactive that you hope people will give it a second thought.”

If you have someone you love behind the wheel and wish to learn more about sending the I Promise message of hope to friends and family, visit www.ipromise.tv.

Reminding Teens to Drive Safely
By Chuck Mai
February 2008

A high school track coach has come up with a little clear acrylic teardrop with two words on it—two words that can save lives. The two words are “I promise.” The hope is that teen drivers will make a pledge to drive safely and hang the teardrop from their rear view mirror to be reminded regularly of that promise. 

Safe driving means using seat belts, and it means no REMINDING TEENS TO DRIVE SAFELY cell phone use or text messaging. It also means no booze and no reckless driving. Karen Benway created the “I Promise” teardrop for her own teenage daughter. “I just wanted something that would always be in her face, reminding her,” she said. 

AAA Oklahoma endorses the teardrop. Teen drivers are over-represented in traffic fatality statistics—all too often, all it takes is a little extra thought to do the right thing. The teardrop comes with either a purple ribbon or a brown leather string. They’re $6 each, available at www.ipromise.tv.

Teardrop pledge, Students promise to drive safely
By Dawn Marks
Staff Writer

The Oklahoman - 1/5/08

EDMOND — Karen Benway wants to help parents sleep a little better, and teens be a lot safer.

Benway, a cross country running coach at Edmond Santa Fe High School, and her friend, Pat Dunlap, are asking young drivers to make a promise to drive safely. Those who make the promise can display an acrylic teardrop with the words "I Promise” in their cars and be reminded of that promise.

Benway, also a health and physical education teacher at Summit Middle School, was worried about her 16-year-old driver one night about two years ago as she tried to sleep.

Benway said all she could think about was whether her daughter used her seat belt and was driving safely.

"Honestly that is just every mother's worry,” Benway said.

As she tossed and turned, Benway thought of a teardrop with the words "I Promise” written on it. She got up and wrote her idea down and was able to sleep, she said. Later, she made a teardrop for her daughter's car.

"I just wanted something that would always be in her face, reminding her,” Benway said.

Six months after she made the first teardrop, her nephew was driving in an accident that killed a friend, and Benway decided she needed to do more to get her message out.

She started making teardrops for her students because she remembered other students who died in accidents before they got out of high school.

"There was a boy in my class at Summit who sat in the same spot three years in a row and never made it out of high school. I've often thought of him,” Benway said.

Benway and Dunlap, the father of a friend of Benway's daughter, have now started a Web site www.ipromise.tv where people can order the teardrops. The mementos also will be handed out with Edmond prom tickets this year.

The acrylic teardrops come with a card detailing the driver's promise to loved ones to not drink and drive, avoid reckless driving and always wear a seat belt.

The teardrop symbolizes the lives already lost in driving accidents, and a purple ribbon symbolizes the homes where drivers are heading.

Alyssa Nale, 16, a student of Benway's, said she has seen the teardrop work. Nale said some friends, who had the teardrop in their car, were in an accident this year that totaled the car, but all the passengers were fine after the accident because they were wearing their seat belts.

Nale, who just got a car for Christmas, now will have a teardrop hanging from her rear view mirror.

"I know every time I get into my car I'll look at it,” Nale said. "I think it does help you make the right choices.”

Dunlap said the teardrops can serve as a reminder for adult drivers too, and can help young drivers deal with peer pressure when they encourage their passengers to wear seat belts.

"It's a constant reminder, a visual reminder ... to always use safety behind the wheel of a car,” Dunlap said.

"I just wanted something that would always be in her face, reminding her.”

Karen Benway




I Promise, LLC