Are You a Passenger in Danger?

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We do it all the time We often put ourselves in harm’s way without even knowing it when we ride as a passenger with someone who has been drinking, or is otherwise impaired or distracted. We cannot always control who is driving, or when, or the conditions of the person driving and often, we may not know the person is impaired—that is, until it’s too late.

We may adhere to safe practices on our own when we are driving by buckling our seatbelts, keeping our eyes on the road, engaging the Drive Smart feature on our cell phones, and refraining from looking at incoming texts. But it’s a little more difficult when we find ourselves a passenger of a vehicle where the driver is not so careful. Social protocol tells us that we should be sensitive in our communication to others. But, how often is our safety ignored, and what are some things we can do when we find that we are a passenger with little to say in the matter?

If you find yourself a passenger in a car driven by someone else, here are some practices to keep in mind:

  • Simply state up front that you are happy to drive if the person has to make calls or communicate via text while driving.
  • Offer to be the GPS navigator so that the driver can keep eyes on the road while you serve as co-pilot.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to alarm the driver suddenly if you see something amiss because that could startle the person into making wrong judgment call, but you do want to be aware of any conditions that might be unusual.
  • Never get in the car, in the first place, if you suspect that person has been drinking or taking drugs, causing impairment.
  • If it persists, state gently that you’d rather the person not text or talk on the phone when you are in the car. They may not take that direction well, but advocating your own safety will win in the end.

Sometimes we are unable to speak up as we should, or find ourselves in a situation when it’s too late to say something. If you have been inured or know someone who has been injured or killed in a car accident as a result of an impaired driver, you will want to document events that happened before , during and after the accident, so that you have a ready list to bring with you on your appointment with your legal counsel.

Stay safe by speaking up on your own behalf.