FRESNO, CA (KSEE/KGPE) – A new pilot program introduced to Clovis West students rolled out Tuesday to show the dangers of drugs and driving.

According to officials with the California Highway Patrol, 44% of traffic deaths involve drivers who are impaired by drugs.

That’s why CHP officials are developing a new program to prevent high school students from driving under the influence. 

Two weeks away from graduation, current and upcoming seniors at Clovis West high were given a surprise presentation by CHP officials to warn against the dangers of drugged driving.

“The hope is, is that the next time a decision has to be made, that they make the right decision,” says Sergent Pennings.

Pennings worked on developing the 44 Program and said it’s becoming increasingly common to see teenagers die as a result of impaired driving. 

“Our fatalities as a whole, within the last year, are up by 19% here in the central valley,” Pennings says.

Clovis West principal Eric Swain opened up to a roomful of students sharing how impaired driving impacted his life when he was also just about to graduate from high school. 

“They were walking across the street from a benefit holding hands, and a drunk driver on a motorcycle hit and killed my mom,” Swain says. 

As seniors prepare for graduation and prom there is an increased push for safety.

“They’re gonna make decisions, and hopefully if they make the decision to partake in drugs or alcohol, that they don’t get behind the wheel,” says Swain. 

A group of 15 students was handpicked for the pilot program, putting on a suit that mimics the effects of drugs while behind the wheel. 

Although Clovis West was a pilot for this program, CHP officials say that the goal is to eventually expand this program to other schools in Fresno County.