THAYER -- On April 11 the Grim Reaper made an appearance at Thayer High School. Thankfully, this was not one of his typical visits requiring a life to cease, although it did cause some alarm.
According to Thayer High School Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) sponsor Charla Shrable, "Every 31 minutes of each day, a life is lost as a result of an impaired driving crash."
The SADD Bobcats, in order to demonstrate the number of Americans lost to these crashes during the school day, took part in an activity called the Grim Reaper. One SADD member dressed up as the Reaper.
"To simulate the death of an American, every 31 minutes a short announcement went out over the intercom and our Reaper made his entrance claiming a 'victim,'" Shrable said.
Each victim's face was painted white. For the remainder of the day, these students represented a life lost.
Shrable said as a final demonstration, those students taking part laid on the front lawn of the school under white sheets, reminding other students one last time that they should never drive while impaired because they could lose their lives.
In a recent survey almost a third of last year's high school seniors across the country admitted to driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding with someone who had done so.
That figure is down from 35 percent in 2001, but hasn't changed much since 2004.
More than 2,100 members of the class of 2007, at about 135 high schools nationwide (Thayer not included), completed surveys about their drinking, drug use and driving in the past two weeks.
About 18 percent said they had driven after drinking heavily, using marijuana or using illicit drugs other than marijuana. The survey went like this:
* Any alcohol, 56.1 percent.
* Marijuana, 23.2 percent.
* Heavy drinking, 15.8 percent.
* Illicit drugs other than marijuana, 5.9 percent.
Shrable said these risky behaviors were more commonly reported by men than by women.
She said the students only reported their behavior during the previous two weeks. A yearlong study might have netted more student confessions of intoxication on the road.