Life's lessons are best learned through experience. Unfortunately, when the target audience is teens and the topic is drinking and texting while driving, experience is not the teacher of choice.
This is why the simulation of "Every 15 Minutes" is so effective. In creating an intense scenario with realistic consequences, teenagers can see and feel the impact of impaired driving in a way that will stick with them forever.
What does the program entail?
The Every 15 Minutes program is an emotionally charged event designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and texting while driving and will motivate them to make better decisions going forward.
"During the first-day events, the 'Grim Reaper' calls students who have been selected from a cross-section of the entire student body out of class. One student is removed from class every 15 minutes," explains everyfifteenminutes.org.
A police officer then enters the room and reads the class an "obituary" that has been written by the teen's parents. When the student returns a few minutes later, they do so as the "living dead," wearing white face make-up, a coroner's tag, and a black Every 15 Minutes T-shirt.
These students are not allowed to speak or interact with other students throughout the rest of the school day, and their parents receive a mock death notification at their home or place of employment.
"After lunch, a simulated traffic collision will be viewable on the school grounds. Rescue workers will treat injured student participants. These students will experience first hand, the sensations of being involved in a tragic, alcohol-related and texting while driving collision," says everyfifteenminutes.org.
This simulation will be complete with a coroner, jaws of life, firefighters, paramedics, an arrest for drunk driving, a trip to the police station and emergency room.
In a striking and intense program, the students will be taken through an audio - visualization of their own death. Then the students will write a letter to his or her parents to tell them about their alcohol-related traffic collision and what they wished they had the chance to say before they died.
"Parents will also be asked to write similar letters to their children. These letters will be shared the following day when students and parents will be reunited at a school assembly," says everyfifteenminutes.org
Students will also engage in challenging and interactive exercises meant to have them see the dangers of impaired driving experience firsthand the potentially fatal consequences of alcohol and drug impairment.
What are the results of the program?
The Every 15 Minutes Program is very successful in changing and challenging students to consider their choices and unintended consequences of their actions.
After going through the program, students were found to decrease the number of daily and weekly drinking episodes, be less likely to drive when drinking, be more likely to watch how much their friends are drinking, and be more likely to buckle their seat belts, according to a widely distributed survey to 1,198 participants from 47 high schools.
The prevalence and danger of alcohol with teenagers
Alcohol has always been a dangerous factor among teens and driving. Alcohol slows reaction time; impairs the judgment of time and distance; decreases coordination; and increases aggressiveness, recklessness, dizziness, and drowsiness, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. These impairments can lead to vehicle crashes and unintended consequences for all people involved in an accident.
Fatal roadway crashes among people aged 16-20 are on the rise, show statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since 2015, young drivers involved in fatal crashes rose by 3.6 percent.
Fortunately, there are initiatives like the Every 15 Minutes Program that are helping teenagers feel the impact of these bad decisions and motivate them to act responsibly.
Drunk and distracted driving is a real concern among teenagers. If you would like your school to take part, reach out to the Every 15 Minutes Program today. It just might save a student's life.
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