Churchill students got a chilling lesson in the perils of drunk and distracted driving Thursday morning.
At 10:45 a.m., a staged 911 call went over the school's intercom, alerting students that an accident, possibly fatal, occurred in front of the school. When students rushed outside, they witnessed police handcuffing the driver as a victim was taken to Shady Grove Hospital. Fortunately for students and the community, all of it was fake.
In partnership with Montgomery County police and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Winston Churchill High School staged the “Every 15 Minutes” program, a national partnership program between schools, hospitals, fire and rescue and police that uses staged, simulated events to educate students on the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.
Before and after the staged events, student volunteers were pulled from classrooms every 15 minutes through the day as police officers read faked obituaries. These students have agreed not to speak with any other students or family for the next 24 hours. According to the program, this is an attempt to visually represent how many people are killed or injured in vehicle accidents with drunk or distracted drivers – it happens every 15 minutes.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that distracted driving contributes to nearly 8,000 crashes each day. A government website warning of the dangers in distracted driving reports that in 2010 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers, while another 416,000 were injured.
The program continues today with an assembly featuring guest speakers from the State’s Attorney’s office and a local graduate prosecuted for manslaughter in an alcohol-related accident on Seven Locks Road.
gathering police, community leaders, parents, teachers and students to discuss a growing substance and alcohol abuse problem in the county.
“The number one cause of death continues to be alcohol related crashes and teen driving crashes,” said Captain Thomas Didone, director of the Montgomery County Police Traffic Division, addressing attendees of the May forum.