Every 15 Minutes Program

Every 15 Minutes is a nationwide, in-school SO badgetwo day impaired and distracted driving prevention program designed for high school students to combat the ever growing number of impaired and distracted driving crashes and fatalities each year. 

The Lane County Sheriff's Office proud to bring this program to Lane County high schools with the assistance of local fire departments, local law enforcement agencies, and a myriad of other community partners.  


Every 15 Minutes Program Overview

Every 15 Minutes is a nationwide, in-school teen drinking and driving prevention program. The program was started by the California Highway patrol in 1990 in an effort to combat the ever growing number of teens being killed or injured as a result of alcohol or drug related traffic crashes. These types of crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in this country. In 1990, there was a traffic related death every 15 minutes which is how the program became known as the Every 15 Minutes program.


The Lane County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Oregon State Police, local fire personnel, and other law enforcement and community partners, is proud to bring this program to Lane County high schools. Unlike other programs, Every 15 Minutes approaches the topic of impaired and distracted driving not only by looking at the effects of drinking and driving as it relates to traffic crashes, but also the emotional impact of these incidents. It demonstrates how these crashes not only affect the teen, but their family, friends, and the community.  The program has also recently started to incorporate distracted driving as a topic as well, given the prolific use of cell phones and other distractions that can reduce a driver’s focus on the road and their surroundings.


This program requires the collaboration of many agencies in the community. These include, but are not limited to the schools, law enforcement, fire departments, and many volunteers throughout the community. In order to ensure the program’s success, it is important that the families of these students be involved in this program as well. This begins weeks prior to the event when the parents or guardians of the involved students are encouraged to speak to their students about the impacts of choices they make, and how to handle tough situations they may encounter. This begins, or continues, a dialogue about drunk and impaired driving that will continue throughout the program and allow the students to feel supported as they participate in the program.


Below is an outline of what to expect from the Every 15 Minutes program that we have asked your student to participate in. Parent / guardian permission is required for students to participate (permission slips will be sent home with students in the near future).

** Students are pre-selected by the school to participate in this program prior to the event.   **


Day One:

At the start of the school day on Day One, a member of law enforcement dressed as a grim reaper will go to each participating student’s classroom along with a non-denominational clergy member and remove each selected student from their class.  Students removed from class serve as a visual representation of potential loss of life due to a drunk or impaired driving incident. After the student is removed from the class the chaplain will read to the class the obituary written by the student or the parents/guardian of the student.


The student is taken to a room in the school and is made up with face paint and a full black hooded gown to signify to other students that they will be involved in a life changing event. They are then asked to create their own headstone and to write on it what they would want to be remembered by. The student then places the headstone in a mock cemetery located at a focal point at the school. The student then returns to class for the remainder of the morning with face paint and the black gown.  These students do not talk to other students, but are a visual representation of what it would be like for students to be missing from class as the result of a drunk or impaired driving crash.


During the course of the first day, event staff will be taking pictures and video so that a video of the program can be shown at the assembly the next day. This provides a way for students, staff, and community members who are not directly participating in the program to be part of the learning experience.


At the lunch hour all of the participating students return to the event room and are treated to lunch along with all the event staff. Six of these students are then further made up by a moulage artist so they can be become the victims and involved persons in the staged traffic crash, which is set up on school grounds.


Mock Car Crash

On the afternoon of Day One, a mock car crash will be set up at a predetermined location, usually on school grounds.  Participating students will be staged in the cars as though a crash had just occurred.  The entire student body (of for larger schools, a subset of the student body) will gather and be briefed on what they are about to see and are then escorted to the crash site.


The crash simulates a two-car, drunk or impaired driving crash that results in the death of one teen occupant and injuries to several others. The crashed cars are set up in the crashed position ahead of time for safety, and students are staged in the vehicles as thought the crash had just occurred.


Police, fire, and EMS will respond to this crash along with a helicopter medical transport (when possible) in the same manner as they would any other crash of this nature. Fire personnel sometimes utilize tools to extricate the students from the vehicles to add to the impact of the event. Once fire/EMS have concluded patient treatment and the victims have left the scene (either on foot, by ambulance, or helicopter), the at-fault teen driver will be processed for DUII and law enforcement will simulate an arrest. This will conclude the crash and the students will then be escorted back to the school.  


Overnight Student Retreat

The small group of pre-selected participating students have a chance to clean up and are then bussed to the retreat location where they will stay the night. Students are supervised at the retreat location by program coordinators from local law enforcement agencies and school staff. At the retreat there are other event related activities such as a presentation by local law enforcement and fire personnel.  There will also be other team building exercises for the students to participate in as well as an opportunity to decompress with games and basketball. The night will conclude with a letter writing exercise where students will write a letter to someone in their life as if they had lost their life in a drunk / distracted driving related crash. This is a very emotional part of the program that allows students to consider the gravity of their decisions and how important their family and friends are to them, and how those people could be impacted by their decisions.


The retreat is a place where the learning for the students will continue beyond the mock car crash and allow the experience to be reflected upon in a safe place with others who were also part of the mock car crash.


A secondary purpose of the retreat is to allow the families and friends of the involved students to experience their child/friend not coming home that night as would be the case if they were in fact injured or killed in a real traffic crash. This allows family and friends to be a part of this experience and illustrates to the student that the impacts of their decisions are far reaching.   


As part of this program we will ask one family to participate in mock death notification in the evening of Day One. The time is prescheduled with the family.  Police and clergy will go to the family’s house and make a mock death notification, which is done as any real notification would be done. These family members will be asked to speak about that experience the next day at the assembly and share how this impacted them. Parent / guardian participation in the mock death notification is not required for your student’s involvement in the program.


Day Two:

Day Two begins with a group breakfast at the retreat location with the involved students and chaperones. After breakfast students return to the high school for the second part of the program:  the community assembly. The assembly is open to anyone in the community that wishes to attend.


The Lane County Sheriff generally will emcee the program, which includes the video from the activities the day before. We then ask the family members who participated in the mock death notification to speak at the assembly, sharing the impact it had on them.  The program also includes 1-2 guest speakers who have had their lives greatly impacted by a drunk or impaired driving incident.


In past events, several of the students that wrote letters to their parents and loved ones the night before have volunteered to read their letters and share any feelings they may have regarding the events they have been involved in. At other events, students have asked the student body to take a pledge to not drink and drive or get into a car with an intoxicated person. Each group of students is different and we look forward to seeing how students at your high school make this part of the program the most impactful for their student body.


As you might imagine, the assembly can be quite emotional for all involved. The gym lights will be down to protect people’s privacy and to allow them to be emotional, which is often the case for everyone in attendance, public safety representatives included. In addition, a pledge wall that will have been started the night before at the retreat will be placed in the gym and all students will be allowed to write on and/or sign it. By signing this wall, students are taking a pledge to not drink and drive, and to never ride with someone who has been drinking, and to not drive distracted. This wall can then be used by the school over the course of the year as they see fit.


Once the assembly is over, the event staff will stay as long as needed. Students should be allowed to talk about what they feel and the emotions that have come out. Event staff will also be impacted by this simply by the nature of the presentations as well as by any personal and professional experiences they may have had or been involved in.


Videos from previous Every 15 Minutes programs in Lane County can be found by going to YouTube and searching “Every 15 Minutes Lane County Sheriff”.   


We are excited to work with your high school to help decrease the number of alcohol and distracted driving related crashes and fatalities with this impactful program.


Law Enforcement Program Coordination

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is excited to bring the Every 15 Minutes program to your high school.  This program is a partnership between the participating high school, law enforcement and fire personnel, and multiple community agencies that assist in making the experience as impactful as possible for everyone involved.

As a partner in the Every 15 Minutes Program, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office will:

  • Work with your school on scheduling the program on a date that works best for the school, our agency, and the involved community partners.The program is two days in length, and generally works best if scheduled on a Tuesday and Wednesday to allow for any last minute planning the day before and reflection as a school the following Thursday and Friday.
  • Program coordinators will meet with the selected 20-25 students 2-4 times prior to the day of event to introduce the program and answer questions.
  • Program coordinators can meet with high school staff to answer any questions prior to the program.
  • Arrange for participation from community partners including:
    • Local law enforcement and fire personnel
    • Air medical transport when possible
    • Make-up artists for the mock car crash
    • Local tow company to provide vehicles for the mock car crash
    • Local funeral home to participate in the mock car crash
    • Non-denominational chaplains for student support and mock death notification
    • Videographer
    • Location for student retreat
    • Retreat activities and speakers
    • Emcee for community assembly and speakers
    • Screen printer to design and print the event t-shirts

Hosting High School Partnership

As a partner in the Every 15 Minutes program, the participating high school will:

  • Program Scheduling: Work with program coordinators to find an event date to host the program.
  • Assign a staff person to work with program coordinators.
  • Student Selection:Select 20-25 students from a cross section of interests, grades, and social groups to be participants in the program.ALL students are encouraged to attend the community assembly on Day Two of the program, but the smaller group of students will be role players in the crash and assist the coordinators during the program.
  • Work to schedule meeting times for participating students to meet as a group with program coordinators.
  • Collect permission slips and mock obituaries from students.
  • Bus Transportation:Arrange for bus transportation for participating students and coordinators from the school to the retreat the afternoon of Day One after the mock car crash, and from the retreat location back to the school on Day Two – generally 25 people.
  • Provide at least one staff person to stay the night at the retreat so there is at least one adult per cabin of students.
  • Financial commitment - the participating school is responsible for the following costs:
    • Retreat location – depends on the site, but generally $350.
    • Day One breakfast – provide funds for program coordinators to purchase snack food items for the event room for the morning of Day One OR purchase and provide snacks (approximately $75).
    • Day One lunch – arrange for a donation or purchase lunch for approximately 35 people at the school.
    • Day One dinner – arrange for a donation or purchase dinner for approximately 35 people at the retreat location.
    • Day Two breakfast- the cost of breakfast at the retreat location is generally part of the cost of the retreat, but may vary depending on location.
    • Videographer - $500 for the videographer’s time, participation in the assembly to present the video, and posting of the video.
    • Make-up artist – local moulage artists donate their time but have historically been reimbursed $100 to cover the cost of their supplies.
    • T-shirts – Approximately $150 for event shirts for participants which will be worn on Day Two of the program during the assembly.

Participating Students

Thank you for participating in the Every 15 Minutes Program.  As a student participant, we ask for the following commitment from you:

This program is an impactful experience like no other, and we hope you will walk away with new tools to help you make the best decision when it comes to impaired and distracted driving.  The right decision is yours to make.  The wrong one can have very serious, life changing consequences.  Be brave.  Encourage others to be brave.  Brave is cool (we promise). 

Students are required to attend the retreat, which includes evening activities and staying the night at the retreat location.  Students are expected to make arrangements with work, sports practices/games, or other commitments to ensure they are able to participate fully. 

Students are expected to conduct themselves appropriately during all parts of the program to get the most out of the experience as possible.

To bring the Every 15 Minutes Program to your Lane County high school, please contact Sergeant Tom Speldrich by email or phone.  541-682-4179

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