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Grim Reaper teachers high school students about drunk driving

Aside from police enforcement actions and holding drunk drivers accountable in court, education is the most powerful tool we have to prevent people from operating vehicles while intoxicated in Benton. In fact, education might be the most powerful tool we have to stop DUI in its tracks, but with the modern world so distracted by smartphones -- and information overload -- how do we get them to look away from the screens long enough to pay attention?

The Benton County Sheriff's Office, Benton County Fir, Kennewick Police Department and Washington State Troopers having been trying one attention-getting strategy out with area high school students. They sent the Grim Reaper to have a serious talk with them about DUI.

The "Every 15 Minutes" program involves visits to high school students by community educators. An officer -- dressed as a Grim Reaper -- goes to the high schools and reads the obituary of someone who died due to intoxicated driving. The program seeks to raise awareness of the very real consequences of DUI in a palpable way they can connect with.

As a part of the presentation, a "secretary of death" is chosen from among the students and the secretary has to select someone who will die. By the end of the day, 20 students are taken from their classes to represent the ones who died. Those students are then transformed into zombie-like versions of themselves, wearing black robes and white face paint. They go back to class, but they're not allowed to speak or interact with any students.

The program creates an opportunity for students to participate and have fun, but it also makes an impression. Hopefully, the impression will be enough to inspire young drivers to avoid combining alcohol and driving.

If you or your loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, you may want to talk to a personal injury lawyer about filing a claim for damages. Aside from education and criminal prosecution, personal injury and wrongful death claims are a powerful way to send the message that -- as a community -- we will not tolerate this reckless and unlawful behavior.

Source: keprtv.com, "Grim Reaper visits RVHS, showing students the reality of drinking and driving," Elise Haas, March 02, 2017

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