Survey: Acting responsibly when riding shotgun will help minimize distractions

In recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AAA says 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. 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.

In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey, only about one-third (35 percent) of North Dakota residents said they speak up if they see the driver doing something unsafe, and only one in four (25 percent) offer to text or talk for the driver.

For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary 2016 data estimates that more than 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 (NSC).

Here are AAA’s top tips for Being A Good Passenger:

1. Buckle up: Be sure to immediately buckle up, once you get in the vehicle. This will avoid an unnecessary conversation as mental distractions can make it difficult for the driver.   

2. 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.        

3. Stay awake: Although it can be tempting to doze off, keep the driver company and offer assistance when necessary.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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