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Unique program focuses on drunk driving prevention

The California Highway Patrol is rolling out a life-changing program that will hopefully prevent teen drunk driving. This week the program will be introduced to the San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California.

The program is titled The Every 15 Minutes Program and focuses on high school juniors and seniors and tries to instill the importance of not drinking and driving, personal safety, the responsibility of making mature decisions and how their decisions affect their family, friends and other people. The goal is to prevent drunk driving.

The CHP oversees the program, which is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety and they are responsible for providing the planning and implementation of the program.

Instead of a traditional approach, the program is over the course of two days, but it is unique in its execution. On the first day, one student is removed from every class every 15 minutes and becomes one of the "living dead." An officer and school counselor enter the classroom and read each student's obituary to those remaining in class. Throughout the day, a mock cemetery is assembled on campus.

Then the remaining students are taken to a simulated drunk driving accident on campus. Medical personnel are responding to the collision scene and they treat the victims, with one student being declared dead at the scene. Another student, designated as a drunk driver, will be arrested by the CHP for driving under the influence.

On the second day of the program, the students will attend an assembly where a video is shown of the previous day's events and includes footage of the aftermath of the collision. This includes what happens in the emergency room, death notifications, courtroom conviction and sentencing of the student drunk driver.

The students who participated in the program and were pulled out of class as the "living dead" read excerpts from letters they wrote the night before the program, sharing their feelings about what it felt like to die without having the chance to say goodbye. The CHP hopes that this unique program strikes a chord with teen drivers so that they don't drink and drive and that they understand that there are serious consequences for making a poor choice.

Source: NOOZHAWK, "CHP Brings Teen DUI Prevention Program to San Marcos," Jeremy Wayland, April 10, 2012

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