Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 11:50 am | Overcast 65º


CHP Brings Teen DUI Prevention Program to San Marcos

'Every 15 Minutes' exercise simulates the deadly consequences of drinking and driving

This Tuesday and Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol will present the life-changing Every 15 Minutes program at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara.

The Every 15 Minutes program is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors, challenging them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, the responsibility of making mature decisions, and the impact their decisions have on family, friends and many others. The program was developed to prevent teen drinking and driving.

Funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the California Highway Patrol is responsible for overseeing the Every 15 Minutes program in California and provides technical assistance and support in the planning and implementing of the program.

On day one, one student will be removed from class every 15 minutes and then becomes one of the “living dead.” A uniformed officer and school counselor will enter the classroom and read each student’s obituary to those remaining in the class. Throughout the day, tombstones will be placed in a mock cemetery on campus.

At 10:15 a.m., a simulated drunken-driving collision will involve pre-selected students in the campus parking lot. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department and American Medical Response ambulance personnel will respond to the collision scene and treat the victims, with one student being declared dead at the scene. One other student, designated as a drunken driver, will be arrested by a CHP officer for driving under the influence.

At 10 a.m. on day two, junior and senior students will attend an assembly where a video of the preceding day’s events will be played, which will include footage of the aftermath of the collision (emergency room scene, death notifications, the courtroom conviction and sentencing of the student DUI driver).

Students who participated in the program will read excerpts from letters they wrote the night before at a retreat, sharing their feelings with their friends and classmates of what it felt to die without having the chance to say goodbye. Wendy Reynolds will be a featured speaker and will share her personal story of how a DUI offender affected her life. The assembly will conclude with a call challenging everyone in attendance to make responsible decisions when alcohol is involved.

— Jeremy Wayland is a public information officer for the California Highway Patrol.

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