Don’t Become a Statistic: Grim Reaper Day Takes Over Staples

Every 53 minutes another American is killed in a drunk driving crash. That astonishing number was just one piece of data shared with the Staples community during the 11th annual Grim Reaper Day.

The Teen Awareness Group, also known as TAG, placed posters touting heartbreaking statistics all over the school. One sign read, “In 2008 of Connecticut’s 264 fatalities as a result of auto accidents, 86 people died as a result of drunk driving.” Everywhere I turned in school, the signs seemed to follow me, drilling the statistics into my head. The posters were an effective move by TAG because the information was eye- opening.

A real car from a drunk driving crash was displayed outside of Staples for everyone to see. The side of the car was completely destroyed, making it evident that the crash had been fatal. Although the demolished car was very hard to look at, it left an everlasting picture in my mind. From now on, when Staples students like me think about drinking and driving, the image of this totaled car will remind them that there are life-threatening consequences for their actions.

The most effective element of the day was when police made an appearance in one of my classes informing us that our classmate had been killed due to drunk driving. The classmate then appeared, made up to suggest that she had been in a fatal crash. This was an extremely powerful tactic because it put a face to all of the statistics. It is very easy to forget that each number is a person- a person who had or has a life, a family and a future ahead of them.

During the assembly, an emotional video directed by Jack Craymer ’14 was presented to the student body. The video featured Westport residents who have somehow been affected by drunk driving incidents. That the people filmed were from Westport allowed the audience to feel connected to them and their experiences.

Prior to the video, a guest shared her drunk driving story. She explained how her mistake of drinking while under the influence caused the death of a man. Her story may have gotten through to more students if there had been more speakers. Additional speakers would have demonstrated that there isn’t just one way drunk driving could affect them.

Grim Reaper Day is an effective way to educate adolescents on the seriousness of drunk driving. The presentation today could save many lives by raising awareness.