Thursday, May 3, 2018

Every 15 Minutes, Part II: What is Every 15 Minutes?

By Lori Halvorson

In view of statistics about the increased risk or injury or death for teen drivers and their occupants, a two day program was developed; first in Canada and then adopted in the United States. Entitled “Every 15 Minutes”, it alludes to the frequency in which a teen is killed or injured in an auto related incident. In California the program has been refined and supported by the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Traffic Safety. It generally focuses on high school juniors and seniors; challenging them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions. In addition to a decision to risk an alcohol-related, impaired, or distracted driving crash, it focuses on the impact that such decisions would have on their family and friends.

In Amador County, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission has taken the initiative to make this program available at our local high schools. Working with a wide variety of community leaders, interested agencies, parents, and with the financial support of local groups and businesses, the program will happen on May 21 and 22. It will involve all high school students in the County.

On the first day, a simulated fatal auto collision will be created at Amador High School. It will involve an impaired teen driver and a fatally injured victim. Emergency responders will arrive and conduct a re-creation of what actually happens during such an incident. All of the typical agencies will be involved, including police, fire, ambulance, coroner, public works, tow trucks and others. Actors will be suitably dressed and made up to add realism, and to make the simulation as authentic as possible. All high school students will be in attendance to witness the activity. Later, as the day progresses, a “grim reaper” will appear at the schools and remove a student every 15 minutes to reinforce the statistic. Those students will be taken to an overnight retreat and involved with activities related to the event.

On the second day, an assembly will be held at Argonaut High School. It will include a simulated funeral atmosphere. The students removed from class on Monday by the “grim reaper” will be reunited with their parents, family and friends. A video of the previous day’s activities will be shown. Several speakers will be offering their perspective on the activity and the true impact that teen driving decisions have on their family, friends, and the community as a whole. Following the assembly there will be a community picnic for students, school staff, and event supporters. Support services will be available at that time, as well as providing an opportunity for community engagement.

Initial funding for this program is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety. Additional funding is being provided by generous organizations, businesses, and individuals. In-kind services are being provided by local governmental agencies and first responder organizations.

For information about sponsorship opportunities contact Loraine Davis at (209)304-5125 or  For more information about this program or other youth prevention activities contact Nadine Magana at Nexus Youth and Family Services. She can be reached at 257-1980 extension 102 or email to

Photo courtesy the Amador Ledger Dispatch.

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