National Passenger Safety Week encouraging passengers to speak up to prevent accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,538 fatalities resulting from traffic incidents in N.C. in 2020.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 10:37 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - National Passenger Safety Week started as a national observation last year to remind car passengers that they have the power to speak up to prevent distracted driving.

We Save Lives and National Road Safety Foundation have teamed up to bring awareness to this issue.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,538 fatalities resulting from traffic incidents in N.C. in 2020. Per the North Carolina Department of Insurance, eight people are killed every day nationwide in crashes that involve a distracted driver.

As a passenger, there are countless things that can be done to prevent an accident from happening, such as stating how you feel inside the vehicle and controlling distractions.

“The power that we have as passengers, that we will be the designated texter when someone is behind the wheel and trying to use their phone, that we will speak up if someone’s trying to eat or drink something, or if they’re reaching for an object, changing the playlist. Anything that takes our focus off the arts and the science of driving, that’s where we need those passengers to really speak up,” said Rick Birt, president and CEO of Students Against Destructive Driving (SADD).

What if the prevention wasn’t enough and the accident still happened? There are many things to keep within your car and at an arm’s length away that can be used to escape an emergency.

It’s good to have your typical emergency supplies in your car, such as a first aid kit, food and clothes. But there are a few gadgets and tools that can help you and others get out of difficult situations. Multi-use emergency rescue tools can be used to cut your seatbelt, smash a window, and whistle to call out for help. Another gadget that can potentially save your life is anything capable of flashing light in case you’re on the side of the road.

According to the CDC, most pedestrian deaths occur during the night when people are on the side of the road where higher speeds might occur. That’s why a flashing light will alert people that someone is on the side of the road. Another way to be seen at night is to wear a yellow reflection vest or anything that illuminates when struck by headlights.

“If a crash does occur, those passengers are so important because they can take steps to be responsible for getting law enforcement and first responders on the scene. If someone is trapped, they can help be a part of those solutions. Using seatbelt cutters and other resources inside the car. There’s great resources out there on looking at what you should have inside your vehicle,” said Birt.

National Passenger Safety Week wants to remind passengers that they have the power to speak up and tell the driver how they feel to potentially save themselves and others inside the car.