OHIO, USA — The first-ever National Passenger Safety Week wraps up this weekend.
The goal is to get everyone home safe while out on the roads by speaking up about unsafe driving practices.
National Passenger Safety Week was launched by the organization We Save Lives and the National Road Safety Foundation.
In the U.S. roadway deaths are rising again at an alarming rate.
Last year alone, nearly 40-thousand people died in car crashes.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says crashes claimed the lives of 1,230 people in 2020, and more than half of those killed were passengers.
Which is why Candace Lightner, who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980 has a new mission called "We Save Lives".
"We've seen the statistics go up. In your state alone, your fatalities over 6% over 2019,” said Lightner. “There's always been all this focus on the drivers and yet passengers have the right to be safe too."
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And that’s why organizers started National Passenger Safety Week – to hopefully empower passengers to speak up and let drivers know when they're doing something unsafe.
"A distracted driver, for example, that goes to pick up their phone - 'uh uh', you have to make it very clear that that's not safe, you're not comfortable with that, that they should wait till they get to their destination, or you'll take the call for them,” said Lightner.
Lightner was inspired to inform others of the dangers on the road after a hit-and-run drunk driver killed her 13-year old daughter in 1980.
She says before letting teens in a car with another driver, parents should ask *themselves a few questions.”
"Do you know if they're a safe driver? Are they licensed? Do they wear a seatbelt? Are they on drugs, even prescription drugs?,” said Lightner. “There's a whole list of questions and information that you should know before you let your teen get in a car with someone else.”
Lightner says parents want what's best for their children and should remember that *they are one of the best influences on their child.”
"Teens learn more from their parents driving habits than they do from just about anything else," said Lightner.
By speaking up, you share that you care about the lives of your friends, family members, and even strangers.
"When you look at the numbers and you realize if these passengers would just speak up, how many lives we could save, it would be in the thousands,” said Lightner.