Guest writer, Mi Ae Lipe, Founder of Driving in the Real World
All this week (January 22–28) is National Passenger Safety Week, a movement launched by We Save
Lives and the National Road Safety Foundation to empower passengers to speak up when their lives
or those of others are in danger from reckless drivers. But every day should be a day when we as
passengers and bystanders have the Courage to Intervene.
Here are 25 tips to empower yourself and others:
1. If you don’t feel safe about getting into a vehicle with someone not fit to drive, don’t. And stick to that decision. You don’t ever want to be the one thinking later, If only I had…
2. Don’t let others get in that vehicle either, even if the peer pressure to do otherwise is strong. If people end up injured or dead, the social stigma will be much worse.
3. Call a taxi or offer to drive someone who is impaired.
4. Make sure you always have an alternate way to get home or wherever you’re going. Keep a ridesharing app on your phone or the phone numbers of trusted friends or parents who can give you a safe ride.
5. Let others know of your plans and destinations, just in case.
6. If the driver is tempted by distraction, offer to help. Offer to respond to their phone, to get something they need, or input something on their GPS. Keep them focused on their driving.
7. Most of us know this one, but it’s worth repeating: If someone is drunk or impaired, try to take their car keys away if you can do it safely without injuring yourself. If you can’t, then don’t get in the car thinking you can keep them safe—you can’t. But, do tell them that you will call the police to let them know the license, make and model of the car, and the direction it is headed.
8. If you see someone using drugs (even marijuana), don’t let them get behind the wheel. And don’t go with them, either.
9. Don’t let friends or family use their smartphones while they’re driving to talk, text, email, video-record, or check social media. Hide or keep their phones inaccessible while they’re behind the wheel.
10. Put on your seatbelt and don’t ride unless everyone is wearing them. Also, make sure children and babies are properly restrained in age-appropriate car seats.
11. Prioritize the safety of children and infant passengers. Do absolutely everything you can to keep them safe, including getting them out of a moving vehicle if necessary (such as making up an excuse to stop for a potty or puke break).
12. Don’t get into arguments or escalate a situation with an angry driver.
13. If a driver’s attention is divided, don’t keep distracting them. When they’re negotiating heavy traffic or an unfamiliar environment, either be quiet to let them think, or else offer to help them navigate.
14. If you’re a driver who is having trouble concentrating because a passenger is distracting you, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know politely but firmly. Most people have no idea when they’re causing a problem, but they generally want to be helpful.
15. Talk to your teen about the responsibility of being a passenger. They have superpowers as passengers to keep themselves and their friends safe!
16. If you see someone on the road who is driving erratically or dangerously, report it to the police.
17. If you notice that the vehicle you’re riding in (or about to get into) is potentially unsafe, say something (a low tire, a warning light on the dashboard, a weird smell, or an odd noise). And decide if you want to remain in it.
18. Sign a pledge that you will not let friends drive drugged, drunk, or distracted, that you won’t ride with anyone who is impaired, that you will encourage others to do the same, and that you will have the Courage to Intervene.
19. Download the Parent Checklist of Questions to ask your teen before they become a passenger. Don’t be afraid to monitor who your child rides with—it could literally save their life.
20. Write an opinion editorial for your local newspapers about the importance of passenger safety and empowerment.
22. Organize passenger empowerment campaigns in schools. Grade-school-age kids and high schoolers can be the strongest advocates by speaking up if they’re in the car with someone driving unsafely or seeing their friends or family engaging in dangerous behavior.
23. Share success stories of yourself or other passengers who have intervened on social media. This is one of the most powerful ways to influence others.
24. Watch these videos for suggestions on how to handle sensitive situations (scroll toward the bottom).
25. Share these tips with your friends and family!
One courageous voice can stop one deadly choice. Have the Courage to Intervene.