Keys to Life

National statistics show that every 15 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured in an alcohol-related automobile crash. 

The long-term objective of the Keys to Life program is to heighten awareness of the consequences of underage alcohol use with an emphasis on and around special occasions and events. The Keys to Life program is aimed at high school and college students to increase their awareness of the dangers of drinking alcohol, particularly during the prom and graduation seasons. The program started in October 2001 through a grant by the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program.

When schools request a Keys to Life program, any or all of the following components may be available:

Every 15 Minutes

This is a modified version of a nationally-recognized program that stresses the fact that every 15 minutes in America someone is grievously injured or killed in an alcohol-related traffic accident. Volunteer students are pre-selected prior to the day of the program. Every 15 minutes throughout the school day, a heartbeat is played over the school's PA system and the Grim Reaper appears in a classroom to take one of the volunteer students away. These students' faces are painted gray and they are provided a black t-shirt to symbolize their deaths. The students are then escorted back to class by the school resource officer and their obituary read aloud to the class. To reinforce their "death," the student may not speak to or interact with classmates for the remainder of the school day.


A PowerPoint presentation is delivered to students in groups as small as one class to assemblies that include the entire student body. This presentation provides facts and statistics, as well as practical reasons why underage drinking and driving are bad ideas. Throughout the presentation, the Grim Reaper appears every 15 minutes to take out his victims.

Mock Accident Scene

These very realistic mock accident scenes are complete with simulated casualties, emergency services personnel, news reporters, and arrests of drunk drivers. The scenes are made to look as real as possible so that the students will experience what it would be like to see their friend zipped up in a body bag or their classmate arrested for drunk driving. Throughout these scenes, the Grim Reaper can be seen wandering about taking stock of his victims.

Students are provided with awareness materials such as key chains, t-shirts, and pens that will serve as reminders long after the visit. Posters are hung throughout the school campus to draw attention to the dangerous consequences of alcohol abuse.

Students say the Keys to Life program makes a strong impression on them and helps them see that drinking alcoholic beverages can have tragic, if not deadly results.

Keys to Life programs are conducted free of charge for high schools and colleges. The only investment required is the time volunteered by staff and students. If you would like more information on the Keys to Life program, or if you are interested in coordinating a program for your high school or college, please send us an e-mail or call 919-733-4060.