What is National Passenger Safety Week, and why does it matter?

RAPID CITY, S.D. – This upcoming week is National Passenger Safety Week. So, what is it, and why is it important?

What is it?

National Passenger Safety Week is an initiative by traffic safety organizations around the country to bring awareness of the role that passengers play in safe driving.

“This year, the focus is getting passengers to speak up and identify dangerous behaviors,” said Shawn Steward, the Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA.

Why does it matter?

Last year, there were over 47,000 deaths from traffic-related incidents. Of those, 62% were passengers.

From 2021 to 2022, there was an increase in self-reported participation in dangerous driving behaviors.

“Drivers indicated that they were involved in these dangerous behaviors more. And that’s been reflected in fatalities throughout the country,” Steward said.

Some of the dangerous behaviors include speeding, running red lights or stop signs, distracted driving, and impaired driving, including being under the influence of prescription drugs.

Cases of impaired driving saw a 25% increase from 2021 to 2022.

“It’s dangerous to drive a vehicle. And if you’re not paying attention or you’re engaged in behaviors that make it a lot less safe to drive, tragedy can happen,” said Steward.

What you can do?

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to wear your seatbelt.

In South Dakota, only 87% of people report that they wear their seatbelt at all times. The national average is 90%.

Around the country, about half of all traffic deaths are from people who weren’t wearing their seatbelts.

As a passenger, you have a role in protecting yourself, the driver, and other drivers.

“Passengers have a role. They can speak up if they see the driver engaging in dangerous behaviors. They need to speak up because their safety is on the line as well,” Steward said.

Another thing that you can do is to make sure you never get in a vehicle with someone who is impaired. You can also help eliminate distractions by offering to assist with navigation or music selection. Passengers can do a lot to help, but they can also be a part of the problem.

If you’re a passenger, do your best to not distract the driver and allow them to focus on the road.

Categories: Local News, National News, South Dakota News