Passengers can make a difference in reducing the number of devastating traffic crashes by speaking up when in a vehicle being driven unsafely. That’s the theme of National Passenger Safety Week, January 22-29, 2023.
The campaign was initially launched last January by We Save Lives, based in Alexandria, VA and The National Road Safety Foundation, New York City, two non-profits whose focus is on highway safety.
Passengers accounted for 24 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide in 2020, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
“Many of those lives might have been saved had a passenger in the car insisted that the driver slow down, stop texting or not get behind the wheel in the first place,” said Candace Lightner, the campaign’s organizer and the founder of We Save Lives.
More than 60 traffic safety and advocacy groups nationwide will help encourage passengers to SPEAK UP. The campaign will include a nationwide media blitz, social media outreach and involvement from groups including the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents traffic safety offices in all 50 states, the National Safety Council and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), with more than 400,000 student members.
Plans for the campaign include distribution of materials about how to speak out, scripts and videos giving examples of when and how to SPEAK UP, and calls for people to sign the “Courage to Intervene” promise.
“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 puts passengers at risk of serious injury or death,” said Lightner, who has been a leading traffic safety advocate since founding MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in 1980 after losing her 13-year-old daughter Cari to a multiple repeat offender drunk driver. “Passengers need to speak up when they see dangerous driving behavior,” she said. “We hope this ongoing campaign will empower passengers to be safety advocates, to the point where it becomes acceptable – even expected – for passengers to SPEAK UP when confronted with an irresponsible driver.”
“Much of being a safe driver comes from education,” said Michelle Anderson, director of operations at The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit founded 60 years ago to promote safe driving behavior through education. “When people are knowledgeable about driving risks like impairment, speed, aggression and drowsiness, there’s a better chance they will avoid taking those risks or letting others do so. The National Passenger Safety Campaign educates and empowers passengers about how they can save lives by calling out unsafe driving in the vehicle before crashes happen.”
Visit nationalpassengersafety.org for more information and to sign the Courage to Intervene promise.
We Save Lives, founded by in 2014 by Candace Lightner, who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 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.
The National Road Safety Foundation, in its 60th year, produces free videos and teaching materials on distracted driving, speed and aggression, impaired driving, drowsy driving, driver proficiency, pedestrian safety and a host of other safety issues. It also sponsors contests to engage teens in promoting safe driving to their peers and in their communities, partnering nationally with youth advocacy groups including SADD and FCCLA.