2017-07-13 / Top News

Be a good passenger when riding shotgun

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY
AAA Auto Club Group

If you’re riding shotgun, be a good passenger and help minimize distractions for the driver. If you experience something unsafe, immediately speak up and offer assistance.

That’s the word from AAA — and it has the statistics to back it up. In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey, nearly half (44 percent) of Florida residents stated that they do speak up if they see the driver doing something unsafe, but only one in four (27 percent) offer to text or talk for the driver.

Distractions come in all forms, and when a lifesaving opportunity surfaces, seize the moment and take proper action as this action may indeed save a life — possibly your own.

For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary 2016 data estimates that a little over 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, and approximately 10 percent of those were due to distracted drivers. That marks a 6 percent increase over 2015, and a 14 percent increase over 2014 — the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 — 53 years, according to the National Safety Council.

AAA’s offers these top tips for being a good passenger:

• Buckle up. Be sure to buckle up immediately once you get in the vehicle. This will avoid an unnecessary conversation, as mental distractions can make it difficult for the driver. The driver needs to concentrate on the task at hand — driving.

• Be a good co-pilot. Essentially, help drive the car. Support the driver by being an extra set of eyes, ears and hands. Ensure other passengers act responsibly. Remind the driver to “Put it Down, Don’t Text and Drive.” Should an opportunity surface, offer to help.

• Stay awake: Although it can be tempting to doze off, keep the driver company and offer assistance when necessary. If your GPS isn’t working properly, or the driver gets lost, you can use your smartphone to help to safely navigate to your destination.

• Don’t be a back-seat driver. Abstain from being negative and pointing out every little mistake. This adds to the driver’s stress level instead of easing it. Steer clear of agitating the driver. Remember, a calm driver is a safe driver.

• Control your emotion. If you think there is emerging danger, control your impulses and reactions. Calmly let the driver know, but do not shout, grab the steering wheel or hand brake, as this will only make things worse.

“The driver is ultimately responsible for everyone’s safety, but an engaged passenger will help the driver get everyone to their destination safely,” said Amy Stracke, managing director, Traffic Safety Advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and executive director of the ACG Traffic Safety Foundation. “Responsible ridership and safety go hand in hand.” ¦

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