The Macomb Daily

Macomb County Traffic Safety Associatio­n stresses good habits

Advocates urge passengers to ‘speak up’ about driver behavior

- By Mitch Hotts mhotts@medianewsg­ For more informatio­n and to sign the Courage to Intervene Promise, visit nationalpa­ssengersaf­ety. org.

The Macomb County Traffic Safety Associatio­n (TSA) is wrapping up a week-long observatio­n of National Passenger Safety Week, which emphasized the need for passengers to “speak up” about driver behavior.

TSA joined with more than 60 traffic safety and advocacy groups nationwide in celebratin­g passenger safety Jan. 21-28.

Christophe­r Drummy, director of Traffic Safety Associatio­n of Macomb County, said in a news release vehicle passengers “can set the ground rules” when it comes to their own safety.

“They have the power to keep drivers from using their mobile devices while driving,” Drummy said. “They should not get in the car with a driver who is impaired and they have the power to discourage other bad driving choices such as speeding and driving drowsy.”

According to the release, the campaign was launched last January by We Save Lives and The National Road Safety Foundation, two non-profits whose focus is on crash prevention and saving lives.

Passengers accounted for 62% of traffic fatalities nationwide in 2019, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Traffic safety leaders say those numbers can be reduced by empowering passengers to speak up for their safety when in a dangerous driving situation.

The passenger safety campaign included a nationwide media blitz, social media outreach and involvemen­t from groups including the Governors Highway Safety Associatio­n, (GHSA) which represents traffic safety offices in all 50 states, the National Safety Council (NSC) and Students Against Destructiv­e Decisions, (SADD) with more than 400,000 student members.

Plans for the campaign included the distributi­on of materials about how to SPEAK UP, including scripts and videos. It also includes the “Courage to Intervene” Promise.

Traffic safety advocate Candy Lightner, who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980 after losing her 13-year-old daughter Cari to a multiple repeat offender drunk driver, said bad driving choices put passengers at risk of serious injury or death.

Passengers need to intervene if they see the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, is speeding or driving too aggressive­ly, or can’t stay awake at the wheel, she said.

“We hope this ongoing campaign will empower passengers to be safety advocates, to the point where it becomes acceptable — even expected — for passengers to speak up when confronted with an irresponsi­ble driver,” she said in the release.

Education is critical in making sure drivers are safe to travel, said said Michelle Anderson, director of operations at The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit founded more than 60 years ago to promote safe driving behavior through education.

“When people are knowledgea­ble about driving risks like impairment, speed, aggression, and drowsiness, there’s a better chance they will avoid taking those risks or letting others do so. The National Passenger Safety Campaign educates and empowers passengers about how they can save lives by calling out unsafe driving in the vehicle before crashes happen,” she said.

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