Every year in this county about 10,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes. The number of people injured is far greater; and the number of friends and family whose lives are changed forever is immeasurable.
Last week, students at Quincy High School came as close as a person can come to experiencing the traumatic impact of a drunk driver causing a fatal accident — without having to actually lose a friend or family member.
Students and parents created the heart-wrenching accident scene and participated in additional activities in the classroom. Local rescue and law enforcement personnel responded as if it were a real crash, adding a shocking level of realism.
Our sincere thanks go out to organizers, law enforcement, emergency responders, community members and local sponsors involved with the “Every 15 Minutes” program. The impact of the simulated fatal DUI crash is profound. Just ask the students who participated in the May 22 – 23 event.
It’s safe to say that the lessons learned from the simulation are every bit as important as the knowledge gained in the classroom. And there is no arguing the fact that the Every 15 Minutes program has saved countless lives since its inception in 1995. When the program was launched, a person died in a DUI-related crash every 15 minutes. Today, the number of annual fatalities has been cut in half.
According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the impact of the Every 15 Minutes simulation is immediate. Students polled after taking part in the program reported they were:
—More likely to decrease the number of daily and weekly drinking episodes.
—Less likely to drive when drinking.
—Less likely to be a passenger with a driver who had been drinking.
—More likely to watch and worry about how much their friends are drinking.
—More likely to prevent their friends from driving when the friends are drinking.
—More likely to talk with their own parents or a teacher about drinking.
—More likely to designate a non-drinking driver.
—More likely to buckle their seat belts.
—More likely to monitor their own intake of alcohol.
—More likely to call for a ride home rather than drink and drive.
—More likely to choose not to drink.
—More likely to take someone’s keys or hand over their keys if drinking.
—Less likely to engage in drinking games.
—Less likely to binge drink.
—More likely to walk home rather than drive.
—More likely to get a ride home rather than drink and drive.
—More likely to write a contract with parents regarding circumstances of drinking and driving behavior.
Sometimes we need the chance to experience something to let its impact sink in. There’s just no way words, lectures or statistics can compare with the sight of a bloody classmate being zipped into a body bag … even if she’s just acting.
We hope to see the incidence of alcohol-related crashes continue to plummet. If enough young men and women are reached by programs like Every 15 Minutes, we will.