Submitted by AnnaRose Chaney
O’NEALS – We have all been there before. We have all sensed, or heard, or seen the common chaos of moments such as those.
Somewhere in the distance, the urgent cry of a speeding ambulance fills the air.
The lights flash, warning the world of the impending danger that the loss of one moment could allow.
Yet, it is not long before we have forgotten the discomfort of those long minutes, and moved on with the everyday callings of our lives.
What we do not know, is that there is a body that lies broken and bruised by the side of a dimly lit highway. There is a young man who stumbles from an overturned car, with tears in his eyes and regret on his breath. There are the racing thoughts of emergency personnel as they struggle to breathe life back into the lungs of the young woman whose warmth is quickly fading from her body.
As the ambulance speeds back onto the highway and out of view, we listen to the panic of its siren, but once it is gone, it is all but forgotten. What we do not hear after that is the cry of the young girl’s mother over the telephone, the quiet pacing of her father, and many of us can scarce imagine the horror that is the steady beep of a hospital room flatline.
There is the stern voice of the judge as he tells the young man with finality that he is charged with the death of another human being. Many long nights filled with empty hours and bitter tears are spent by the girl’s friends and family. Because of one reckless moment, their lives are changed forever, and will never again be the same.
These are the things that we do not see, and therefore, are often blind to. Yet, drinking and driving among teens is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It is every 15 minutes that a young man or woman will find that alcohol is more the faithless friend than they ever believed. That is why it is more urgent than ever to instill upon the minds of young people the dangers of drinking and driving.
This spring, Minarets High School hosted the Every 15 Minutes program, and with students graduating this month, now is a good time to be reminded of the ideals behind the practice; a highly impactive two-day event designed to encourage students to think more responsibly when it comes to alcohol consumption and motor vehicles.
Although the program is entirely designed and dramatized by participating students, staff, and community members, there is nothing artificial about the facts behind the event. Drinking and driving is a very real thing. We need only see the statistics of those who have died at the hands of alcohol related accidents.
At the beginning of the year, when two of my fellow seniors introduced the idea of Every 15 Minutes, I was instantly interested in participating. Like many people, I have been affected by the tragedies of drinking and driving.
When I was just 14 years old, a friend of mine was involved in an alcohol related incident, in which he was the intoxicated driver. Because of his choice to drink and drive, a local young woman from our high school was hit in a head on collision and killed. Not only did my friend have to suffer the legal consequences, he also had to suffer every moment of every day with the fact that he had taken another person’s life. This suffering held no comparison to that of the girl’s family.
Having been so close to an event such as this, I knew it was important to share the dangers and tragedy of drinking and driving to fellow students at my high school.
From the beginning, it wasn’t my, or either of my friends’ goal to tell high school students not to drink. The reality is that 11% of all alcohol consumed by the United States is consumed by those from the ages of 12 to 20. We were not staging this event at Minarets to shame students about the statistics, nor were we there to encourage drinking in any way. Our intention was to bring awareness to this fact, and in that awareness, encourage students to take their own, and others’ lives into consideration in situations such as these.
Teenagers are going to drink. It is a fact that many people struggle to accept, but must be made aware of. So the main goal of our hosting this program was to encourage responsibility and consideration into the minds of our friends, family, and loved ones. In this world, we are all given choices. Are there moments in which we choose the wrong ones? Yes. But it is in a choice such as this one that we must make no room for mistakes.
Drinking and driving is a choice. The tragedies that people face at the hands of alcohol related accidents are completely avoidable. When it comes to drinking and driving, I hope your choice will always be the right one.
AnnaRose Chaney is a Minarets Student enrolled in Digital Writing.
Every 15 Minutes was her Senior Legacy Experience.
To read the full story of the Every 15 Minutes experience at Minarets, click here.