'Every 15 Minutes' DUI program returns to San Jose high school

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Students at Valley Christian High School were presented with a powerful message Tuesday by the California Highway Patrol and other local agencies.

"Everybody was just like in shock and taken by surprise because they didn't really know what was happening," says Simone Pond, VCHS freshman. "I could see that was impacting them."

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ABC7 News was at the school as a simulated drunk driving crash was being played out on the football field in front of the student body. The 'Every 15 Minutes' program challenges high school students to think about the impact of drinking and driving, and the impact their decisions have on family and friends. It is typically presented twice a year in Santa Clara County.

"I pictured myself being in that situation and I just saw everything that happened," said Charlie Murphy, VCHS freshman. "It was a terrible moment to experience.

The program's name stems from the estimate that every 15 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an alcohol-related traffic collision. As families deal with the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one, the CHP is exposing students to first-hand demonstrations, but without the real-life consequences.

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"It can be graphic, it can be really emotional for the students, but that is part of the program, with the idea that they'll learn a hard lesson," says Capt. Daniel Vega of the San Jose Fire Department.

All of this comes as prom season is about to get underway throughout the Bay Area. First responders hope that high schoolers from all over will think twice before making any poor decisions. The use of recreational marijuana has also become a growing concern on our local roadways.

"Driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana carries exactly the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol because it is impaired driving," says CHP Ofc. Ross Lee.

The two-day program continues Wednesday with a mock funeral for those who died in the simulated crash.

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