Mothers Against Drunk Driving holding first national passenger safety week

Published: January 23, 2022 6:57 AM EST
Updated: January 23, 2022 10:09 AM EST

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization is pushing its first-ever national passenger safety week campaign.

The number of people killed in crashes on the road increases almost every year across the country and right in Florida. Passengers make up 62% of traffic-related deaths.

The founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving hopes the safety week campaign will empower passengers to speak up when they see dangerous driving behaviors and hopefully save lives.

Several different things are considered dangerous driving; driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and speeding might be the first that comes to mind, but distracted driving and driving when you are exhausted is dangerous.

All those driving choices put passengers, and yourself, at risk.

38,680 people died in crashes in 2020 across the country, and that number keeps rising.

Florida Highway Patrol reported a 17% increase in deaths on Florida roads last year.

Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said, “we need to empower passengers to speak up, speak up for their safety and that of the driver and anyone else that’s in the car, but they need to learn to speak up, they are important, they should live, they should not risk their life because of somebody else’s bad, stupid, reckless, selfish driving choices.”

Her tip for drivers is to remember the basics, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and your mind on driving.

Lightner was inspired to inform others of the dangers on the roads after a hit-and-run drunk driver killed her daughter.

She is now a traffic safety advocate.

In her research, she noticed many people saying they had gotten in a car with an unsafe driver, whether under the influence or just distracted. When she asked them why they said they didn’t know how to get out of the situation.

National passenger safety week is pushing for passengers to speak up.

Lightner said, “passengers, as I said before, and really do want to reiterate, should never get in the car with somebody who’s drunk and drugged and also should not risk their life to stop them from driving. We’ve actually had cases where that’s happened. So if you see somebody, don’t try and grab the car door, don’t try and pull them out of a car. If you can take the keys in a reasonable way, do that.”

Florida has seen an increase in traffic deaths. Last year 3,647 people were killed, and in 2020, 3,098 deaths were reported.

National passenger safety week goes until Jan. 30.