The Effect of Every Fifteen Minutes

The neck brace and shirt worn by Ben Klepper during the simulation.

The neck brace and shirt worn by Ben Klepper during the simulation.


Every day in America, many lives are taken by the simple act of driving while under the influence. While the statistic is not one life per every 15 minutes anymore, the number of people taken by this action warrants a call to action. Madison High School has a program every two years in order to raise awareness of this issue and many walk away from it heavily impacted.

According to the Center for Disease Contol (CDC), over 111 million drivers self-reported driving while under the influence in 2014. Drunk driving accidents can often seem distant to many people and seeing the effects of drunk driving opens people’s eyes. This is especially true when their own classmates are the one enacting the accident. The familiarity students have with the people in the crash enable students to believe that these types of accidents can happen to even them. The program also shows what happens to friends and families after the incident and what the impact looks like. The authenticity of the program made many students very emotional in a way that not a lot of other programs designed to decrease drunk driving could.

As aforementioned, the statistic is not quite one death per every fifteen minutes, so why is the program named as it is? “Every Fifteen Minutes” was a program devised in the 1990s in Canada to decrease the number of drunk drivers by educating high schoolers on the dangers of drunk driving. The United States adopted the program shortly after the program’s inception. At the time in the US, drunk driving accounted for about 40% of all fatalities in car accidents but even then, the average rate of death by drunk driving was one person per 30.4 minutes according to Wikipedia. Today, that number is about one death per 48 minutes.

In addition to the students in the attached video, a Junior, Luke Bias, commented on how being part of the program had affected him and his attitude toward drunk driving.

“  I was strongly affected by the experience because I did the actual program and went through the experience first hand and saw everything behind the scenes of the court scene and everything else. As someone who has been impacted by drunk driving accidents and deaths, I connected with the program a lot and thought it had a very positive impact on me for future decision making. My attitude towards drinking and driving continues to be negative as it should be. There is no positive effect from it and people should be more careful when they are out in those situations,” Bias comments.


All in all, this program has affected students in a very emotional way. Hopefully, it will cause even one student to think twice before either drunk driving themselves or getting into a car with a drunk driver.

Check the CDC for more information about drunk driving risks and statistics.