Graduation cheer and drunk driving should not go hand in hand

Graduation cheer and drunk driving should not go hand in hand
Graduation cheer and drunk driving should not go hand in hand

Dear Family and Friends,

Every 15 minutes, somebody in the United States dies from an alcohol related collision; today I died.  I never got the chance to tell you so many things that I wanted to, you should not be reading them in an obituary, instead I should have lived a long and full life and should be experiencing happiness hand and hand with you. However, because somebody else thought their graduation cheer was more important than my life, drunk driving took me away.

As my life flashed before me, I realized that I could have just as easily taken away a life the way mine was taken from me today.  One too many glasses of wine could have taken away a teen on the precipice of going to college, or a young mother enthusiastic about her child’s first birthday. 

I was so excited about many things in life, I was on my way to my nephew’s graduation; he is going to be attending Arizona State and the family will be celebrating his good grades, but one of his classmates imbibed in some pre-graduation cheer and thought they could still drive.  I never made it to the ceremony. 

Even though we all had our differences: mom, sisters, brother, we all love each other and would not want life to end this way.  They will be devastated when they find out.   Certainly I have had my differences with my children, but I think about them every day, especially when I see other young people with their families, I wonder what my beautiful girls would look like if they still knew me.

The thought that a few drinks and a good time with friends can change countless lives instantaneously is devastating.  I just had this discussion with my friend the other day; we remember being young and stupid, thinking we were immortal and making mistakes like this, never imagining I would be a victim only a few days later. 

I was not through with my time here, I wanted to change the world, to make an impact and to leave an impression on people; I wanted to be remembered for the things that I wrote, for the person that I was.  I wanted people to remember me living a very long and full life, not because I was a victim on a graduation day.

Please, I did not want to go today.

I loved you.

Dawn

Every 15 Minutes is a program that offers real-life scenarios to high school students about the risks associated with drinking and driving.  The term “every 15 minutes” is representative of the fact that every 15 minutes, somebody is killed from an accident involving either alcohol or texting while driving.

Graduation cheer and drunk driving should not go hand in hand
Graduation cheer and drunk driving should not go hand in hand

The program is designed to instill in teenagers the very real consequences of drinking and texting while operating a motor vehicle, and does so in an emotionally charged way.  The true-to-life situations are designed to challenge students to make decisions about personal safety and their responsibility about driving.  It forces mature decision making at a time when lives are literally at stake.

As part of the powerful program, students write their own obituary starting out with, “Dear Mom and Dad, every fifteen minutes someone in the United States dies from an alcohol related traffic collision, and today I died. I never had the chance to tell you…….”  (every15minutes.com)

Because graduation cheer and drunk driving often go hand and hand, groups like Every 15 Minutes have determined to show teenagers what life would be like if they were involved in an accident through real-life scenarios.

Last month in Virginia City, Nevada, VC High School went through an Every 15 Minutes scenario that included officials from the Storey County Sheriff’s Office, The Storey County Fire Department, Virginia City High School staff and student body, the Community Chest, the District Attorney’s Office, and other supporting partners in Carson City and Washoe County.

The entire student body was involved in the event that included a simulated crash and medical treatment for the victim who was care-flighted out of the area; funeral for the victim; arrest and trial of the accused; and even a visit to the local jail where the accused was incarcerated.

Virginia City, Nevada, Every 15 Minutes Mock Funeral
Virginia City, Nevada, Every 15 Minutes Mock Funeral

The emotionally charged experience was designed to teach the students through experience, without necessarily having to experience it.  Sheriff Gerald Antinoro says, “This very emotional and heart-wrenching event illustrates to students the potentially dangerous consequences of their use of alcohol and texting while driving, regardless of how casual they believe their use is.”

When students of all ages will be graduating from high school and college, or people will be celebrating the onset of summer, the urge to drink and drive may be more prominent, but with programs like Every 15 Minutes or the thought of writing or reading an obituary of your loved one, think twice before having one for the road.

With graduation celebrations occurring across the country this week, drunk driving should be the furthest thing from our minds; unfortunately they seem to go hand in hand.

By Dawn Cranfield

Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist

Every 15 Minutes

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