Do you pay attention to your surroundings when you aren’t behind the wheel? As a passenger, you should be aware of when a driver is being unsafe.
“This is the first-ever national passenger safety week that focuses on passenger safety and empowering passengers to speak up,” says Candace Lightner, Founder of “We Save Lives” and “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”
In 1980, Candace’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Since then, she’s been working to put a stop to distracted and drunk driving. In 3 years, her organizations have prevented vehicle death and injury by 20%.
“It occurred to me that maybe we should start focusing not just on the driver, but on the passenger,” says Lightner.
Vision Zero is a campaign in North Dakota to make sure all drivers and passengers are safe. It’s zero fatality and zero excuse mission is to teach people how to take responsibility.
“Vision Zero is for every North Dakotan whether you’re a driver or passenger on the road,” says Lauren Bjork, Safety Public Information Program Manager for the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
According to the ND DOT, In 2022 there have already been 4 official fatalities. Something as simple as putting on a seat belt–no matter where you are in the car, can save your life.
“I would ask the question, How many of you have ridden in a car with a person that was drunk
or drugged, or distracted and I was amazed at how many people raised their hands,” says Lightner.
If a situation can be potentially harmful: Try to take the keys from the driver, call a taxi, or offer to drive. If you are in a situation where a vehicle is being operated dangerously: Suggest pulling over, communicating that you feel unsafe, and contacting the police department.
“Wearing your seatbelt is your best defense in a motor vehicle crash, whether you’re the driver or the passenger in the backseat; just make sure you’re buckled up every trip, every time,” says Bjork.
“We Save Lives” has a “Courage to Intervene” promise that teaches the responsibilities of being a passenger.
“Make sure you speak up, you’re telling your driver to wear a seatbelt. Don’t get into the vehicle someone that you know has been drinking if they’re distracted. Make sure you’re reminding them to pay attention to the vehicle. Your voice matters as a passenger,” says Bjork.
“We Save Lives” has also created a passenger safety checklist, that could keep you safe with a driver that may not be paying attention. For that and more on that and the “Courage to Intervene Promise,” click here.