BOISE – January 22 marks the beginning of National Passenger Safety Week, and AAA is reminding vehicle passengers that they can play an important role in preventing a serious crash.
According to the Idaho Transportation Department, nearly 24,000 Idahoans were involved in fatal and injury crashes in 2021, including nearly 16,000 drivers and 7,500 passengers. That was an increase of 11.4% from the previous year.
“Drivers have an obligation to ensure that they are adequately prepared for the road, and an honest self-assessment of driving behavior and capabilities is the first line of defense,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “The purpose of this campaign is to encourage passengers to speak up if they have concerns about how the driver is performing. Like drivers, they have the right to safely reach their destination.”
The National Passenger Safety Campaign was launched by We Save Lives and the National Road Safety Foundation, and carries the support of more than 60 other traffic safety organizations. In 2019, 62% of all traffic fatalities were passengers.
In AAA’s latest research, drivers reported a greater willingness to engage in risky driving behavior than in previous years, including speeding, red-light running, distracted driving, and drowsy driving, even when they acknowledged that the behavior was dangerous and that loved ones would not approve of their actions.
“In the moment of truth, we invite passengers to act in the best interest of everyone involved to help prevent a tragedy,” Conde said.
Tips for passengers
- Be a good co-pilot. Offer, and if necessary, insist, on helping drivers respond to texts, navigate, find a good radio station, or unwrap food items.
- Stay vigilant. Just like drivers, passengers should actively scan the road for wildlife, pedestrians, bicyclists, unsafe road conditions, and other vehicles.
- Share your concerns. If you observe that the driver seems impaired, distracted, drowsy, upset, or impatient, offer to do the driving. If you aren’t in any condition to drive, arrange an alternate means of transportation for everyone.
- Don’t go along for the ride. If you have any doubts about safely reaching your destination and the driver insists on getting behind the wheel anyway, be willing to make a different plan. Your determination could help the driver realize how risky their behavior really is.
“Expressing concern for a driver’s safety may create some friction in the conversation, but please remember that doing so is an act of compassion and love,” Conde said. “We encourage everyone to understand the risks of unsafe driving so that they will be better informed when speaking with a friend or loved one.”
Travelers can visit www.nationalpassengersafety.org for more information and to sign the Courage to Intervene Promise.