For high school students all across America it is almost prom and graduation season. For many that means party time. For some students the celebrations will have tragic results. It is estimated every fifteen minutes a person is killed in an alcohol related traffic accident. A nationwide program for high school students will hopefully help to reduce the number of accidents.
Allison’s mom was notified at work by a uniformed officer her daughter was killed in a drunk driving crash. Fortunately the notification is all part of the program entitled Every Fifteen Minutes. The program is conducted usually in the spring to coincide with the prom and graduation season. The Every Fifteen Minutes program starts on school grounds and involves law enforcement officers, emergency medical workers and local hospitals. The theory behind the program is the students will learn more from a program they participate in than from a speaker. It is meant to feel real to the students. High school kids may know the statistics for alcohol related accidents, but this program has an emotional impact.
The program can vary from school to school but generally starts out by the grim reaper removing certain students from class. There is a simulated traffic crash where the students participating are taken from the scene by paramedics. Some are taken to local hospitals where actual medical personal simulate treatment. Some students who are declared dead are taken to real morgues to be shown what they look like. Those who were “killed” are then transported to area hotels where they are chaperoned for the night and separated from their families. The purpose is to simulate the separation from family and friends as if they had really died.
The students participating in the Every Fifteen Minutes program are then asked to write a goodbye letter to their parents and vice versa. The next day a mock funeral is held at the school and the letters are read. At that time the students are reunited with their parents and classmates. Speakers from the community share their experiences with drunk driving accidents.
For many students and their parents it hits them when they are separated for the night and they write the goodbye letter. Although they realize it is only for one night, it is still emotional for many and that is the point of the program.
Putting on an Every Fifteen Minutes program is an effort that takes community involvement and organization. But the benefits of helping high school students think about their actions is worth the effort.
For parents or students interested in conducting an Every Fifteen Minutes program at their school there is a national organization called The Every Fifteen Minutes Program. They put out a manual which provides instruction on how to put on the program.
We have not heard as much in recent years from the media about drunk driving. But alcohol related traffic deaths still happen all too frequently. Participating in a program such as Every Fifteen Minutes is one way to teach a young driver not to drink and drive and keep the celebrations safe.