The dangers of driving

     Thousands of teens die every year from car crashes when the driver was distracted or under the influence. The prevention program “Every 15 Minutes” aims to reduce driving while under the influence in teens and is coming to Monte Vista this spring.

     Every 15 Minutes is a two day program that involves the entire school and community. It begins when students are pulled out of class every 15 minutes and sent back in as “living dead”, in order to represent a teen that died in a crash.

     “Physically seeing students disappearing will affect everyone around campus,” senior Jacqueline Neeley said. “It is better than just listening to another speaker telling us not to drink or do drugs because it is more impactful and engaging.”

     All freshmen learn about the consequences of drinking and driving or even just driving while distracted in Health, but being able to experience the consequences first hand is very different. Cindy Imbertson is one of two health teachers and shows her students the video put together by Every 15 Minutes the last time it was at Monte Vista in 2007.

     “Every 15 minutes simulates a real life drinking and driving crashes,” Imberston said. “It is extremely effective and is designed to create a real life experience without the real life risk.”

     Simulated crashes will be staged around campus and rescue workers will help treat the victims. At the end of the program, there is a memorial service for all of the students that “died”.

     “It is really powerful when everyone watches the accident on the field,” Imbertson said, “The police go through the process of giving a DUI and the driver is put in a cop car”.

     Every student in the school does not get to participate in the program directly, however, the goal is for everyone to be affected by those who are.

     “Teachers generally nominate students they think would be fit to be directly involved in the crash,” senior Dana Outcalt said, “Those nominees will then be called in and interviewed because it is a really big responsibility and time commitment”.

     The Every 15 Minutes program requires almost a year of planning because it incorporates the entire community, including the police and the fire stations. San Ramon Valley High School experienced the program last year, where Officer Roderick participated.

     “The entire experience is better than stats on paper,” Roderick said. “Each school tailors the program to fit their needs, but there is always a staged car accident and victims are taken out of class. These victims are linked directly to all of their peers, which is what makes the program so good.”

     “Everyone will get to experience first hand what it feels like to lose your best friend and even experience the guilt that it could have been your fault,” Outcalt said. “Everyone thinks “Oh it wont happen to me” but this makes them realize that it can happen to them and how it would feel to experience it.”

     With the help of parents, the administration and leadership, Every 15 Minutes will hopefully be extremely beneficial for the students. Some students have curfews because of other drivers on the road late at night.

     “My curfew is 12 because my mom always says nothing good happens after midnight,” Outcalt said.