Every 15 Minutes

History of the Program

The Every 15 Minutes program originated in Canada and was soon adopted in the United States first in Spokane, Washington. It did not take long for people in this country to realize the value and potential impact this type of program could and would have on the youth of today.

Bringing the Program to California

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control became interested in the program and brought the Every 15 Minutes program to California. The site of the first Every 15 Minutes program was in Chico which was presented by the Chico Police Department in 1995 through an ABC Grant Assistance to Law Enforcement (G.A.L.E.) grant.
Grim reaper standing over person covered in a sheet

First Presentation

The first presentation of the Every 15 Minutes program in Chico was attended by members of the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Garden Valley Fire Department who in turn assisted the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in the implementation of the original program materials. Soon after the first presentation of the Every 15 Minutes program, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control received funding through a grant from the California State Office of Traffic Safety that allowed the program to spread state wide.

About the Program

The Every 15 Minutes program is a two-day program focusing on high school students, challenging them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, the responsibility of making mature decisions and the impact their decisions have on family, friends, and many others. The program is very dramatic and emotional - and purposely so. Teenagers are constantly reminded about the dangers of drinking and driving. They know the statistics, however, many teens share the belief it will never happen to them. This powerful program is designed to create an awareness among students that they are not invincible. The Every 15 Minutes program helps teens experience first hand how their actions and decisions affect the lives of so many people.

Meaning Behind the Name of the Program

The program's name was derived from the fact that in the early 1990's, every fifteen minutes someone in the United States died in an alcohol-related traffic collision. However, with the implementation of new laws, grass roots programs like MADD, SADD, Friday Night Live and other programs such as these, the death rate is now one every thirty minutes.


This program brings together a broad coalition of interested local agencies with the goal of reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities among youth. The partnering of law enforcement, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, local hospitals, emergency medical responders, schools, tow companies, other businesses and service clubs validates the importance of working together to ensure a healthy community.

Community Benefits

While the Every 15 Minutes program targets high school students, it benefits the entire community. This program not only saves lives, it also saves emergency services money that would be spent responding to alcohol-related incidents. It will also strengthen existing relationships between other state, county and local agencies involved in the program.

How the Program Works

The Every 15 Minutes program starts months in advance of the actual presentation with all of the involved agencies getting together and planning the event. This includes the selection of the students to be involved in the program. The day of the presentation starts with a student being removed from class immediately after the start of the day. Following that, an additional student is removed from class every fifteen minutes if possible. The students pulled from class are not allowed to return until the following day. This part of the program simulates the loss that other students would experience in the event a real life was lost. Sometime during the day, a traffic crash is simulated involving some of the students in which at least one of those students is killed. This part of the program is witnessed by the entire student body. The simulated crash is handled by the responding agencies as a real scenario which will allow all of the students to see exactly how many others are involved in one bad decision to drink and drive. After the crash scene, the rest of the day will continue with students being removed from class every fifteen minutes for the rest of the day.

The second day of the program involves a school assembly in which the involved students return to school. There are some speakers from the community that address different aspects of alcohol related crashes. In addition, some of the involved students may have comments as well as possibly some of the parents involved. The purpose of the assembly is to put into perspective for each of the students present the magnitude and effect their decision to drink and drive could and would have on the community they live in.

The Every 15 Minutes program rotates throughout all the high schools in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa Police Department's desire is for this program to continue to be presented at a different high school each and every year.

The Santa Rosa Police Department currently receives assistance and funding from the California Highway Patrol through continued funding from the California State Office of Traffic Safety.
Firefighters around a wrecked car
EMTs around a person on a backboard