This week is National Passenger Safety Week, AAA says. The safety week runs from January 21 through the 28th.
In total traffic fatalities, passengers accounted for 62% of the total nationwide in 2019, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says. AAA says the number can be reduced by having passengers speak up on their safety when they’re in a dangerous driving situation.
The campaign was started by We Save Lives and The National Road Safety Foundation, who are two non-profits with a focus on crash prevention and saving lives. AAA Western and Central New York division is part of 60 other traffic safety and advocacy groups throughout the country on encouraging passengers to “Speak Up” when they feel their life is in danger due to a reckless driver.
“Passengers can set the ground rules when it comes to their safety. They have the power to keep drivers from using their mobile devices while driving. They should not get in the car with a driver who is impaired, and they have the power to discourage other bad driving choices such as speeding and driving drowsy,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York.
A report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unsafe driving behaviors including speeding, red-light running, drowsy driving, and driving while impaired, had risen from 2020 to 2021. The report showed the most alarming increase was with drivers admitting to getting behind the wheel after drinking more than what they felt was over the limit, a 24% increase.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities have risen. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 42,915 people have died in motor vehicle crashes in 2022, a 10.5% increase from 2020.
“Whether a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, is speeding or driving too aggressively, or can’t stay awake at the wheel, bad driving choices put passengers at risk of serious injury or death,” said Candace Lightner, founder of We Save Lives.
Ways for passengers to be able to speak up and stay safe include:
- Before getting into a vehicle, check to see if the driver is safe and responsible
- Ensure everyone is wearing their seatbelt
- Passengers have a right to intervene if they don’t feel safe
- Child passengers can tell mom or dad to put their phone down
We Save Lives, founded in 2014 by Candace Lightner, is an umbrella organization of more than 50 highway safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, companies, local, state, national, and international organizations, victim’s/survivor groups, and others who want to stop the carnage on our highways. They have launched a number of campaigns to change driving behavior. National Passenger Safety Week is their latest.