“Every 15 Minutes,” a program designed to promote awareness in high school students about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, put on its every-other-year presentation on April 3 and 4 at Temple City High School.
The program went to great lengths to emphasize the fatal consequences that result from drunk driving, as the title suggests, every fifteen minutes in the United States. To give students a real, hands-on idea of the irreversible costs of drunk driving, an assembly with a car-crash reenactment, watched as a “grim reaper” stole “dead” peers from their classes, and heard speeches from parents of true accident victims.
The assembly was a grand event so true-to-life, an actual crash was staged on Temple City Boulevard, where the entire block was sectioned off from regular traffic flow. Complete with a band of police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks, as well as the “bloodied” faces of familiar classmates, trickling smoke from the accordion-crunched car fenders, and sharp tearing sounds from the “jaws of life,” the presentation seemed all-too-real.
One participant, junior Josh Lin, acted as the “drunk driver.” He was subjected to questioning, a field sobriety test, and a trip to jail where he was fingerprinted and given a real breathalyzer test. Josh and other students who were chosen by teachers to participate in the reenactment and student “deaths” had discussions and workshops about drunk driving later on at night.
“At the beginning, I didn’t think too much about it” said Lin, “but during Thursday and Friday night, [the experience] hit me hard. I haven’t cried since elementary school, so it was weird.”
Along with the graphic car-crash reenactment, students were moved by their fellow classmates “dying” throughout the day. The program opened the eyes of one “dead” drunk driving victim, Nick Der.
“In the beginning, it didn’t matter as much to me because I didn’t drink or do drugs” Nick admitted, “but after pretending to be a victim, it changed my life. There’s always the possibility – even if I don’t drink, my friends could.”
Though the visual experience of the reenactment made a memorable difference in students’ lives, the school film class, Dragonflicks, documented the experience on camera, editing it overnight and presenting it to the school the next day. Junior Joshua Liu, Dragonflicks photographer, took still shots of the day’s events.
“I know what the program is about” Josh said, “so my job was to capture the event so people get the full feeling – the complete emotional impact so people who don’t know about [the program] and don’t get it can understand.”
The “Every 15 Minutes” program has done more than help students ‘understand.’ According to the “Every 15 Minutes” website, studies have shown that after viewing the program, students are less likely to drive while drinking, less likely to be passenger in a car with a drunk driver, and more likely to elect a designated driver.
As the website professes, “The Every 15 Minutes Program is a model of both school and community-based alcohol prevention that incorporates simulated alcohol-related consequences with community elements that include students, parents, educators, school administrators, health systems, and law enforcement personnel.”
For more information on the program’s content, you can visit www.every15minutes.com.
This article was written by Katie Brown. It was published in the Temple City Voice on April 17, 2009.