January 22-28, 2023, is National Passenger Safety Week. In 2019, vehicle passengers made up 62% of traffic fatalities nationwide according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. By empowering passengers to speak up for their safety when in a dangerous driving situation, we can reduce this number. Louisiana State Police and Destination Zero Deaths are working together to provide passengers with tools to make the roadways safer. Use these tips below to get the conversation started:
1) Seat Belt Safety: Passengers can help ensure all occupants are properly restrained inside the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported unrestrained rear seat passengers are two times more likely to be killed in a traffic crash. By confirming all occupants in the vehicle are buckled up, passengers can help keep everyone in the vehicle safe. Seatbelts should be used by front and back seat occupants no matter the time of day or distance of the journey.
2) Distracted Driving: Sometimes a break in conversation is the best way to be helpful to a driver. Although a driver may be looking at the roadway, listening and replying to a conversation can be a distraction. By limiting conversations, a passenger can help a driver fully concentrate on the roadway ahead. Passengers can also help reduce driver distractions by managing the radio or navigation systems and encouraging the driver to not use their phone.
3) Extra Set of Eyes: Passengers can be an extra set of eyes for a driver to help everyone get to their destination safely. By scanning the roadway for potential hazards, passengers can help alert a driver to something they may have not seen.
4) Speak Up: If a driver is partaking in risky behavior behind the wheel, passengers should not be hesitant to speak up. If a driver continues once the behavior is brought to their attention, passengers should make the choice to not ride with that person. No one should ever get into a vehicle with an impaired driver.
Passengers have the power to promote safe driving practices and to prevent unsafe ones by speaking up when their lives are in danger due to a reckless driver. By encouraging safe, focused, and sober driving, we can all work together to make Louisiana roadways a safer place to travel.