We get it. You don’t want to be a downer or seem like a mom when riding in the car with your friends. But when your BFF is driving recklessly, your life is on the line. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds in the United States and account for more teen deaths than suicides and homicides combined.
You are more than a statistic and your life means more than a text message or short-lived adrenaline rush. So speak up - it could literally save your life.
Why Speak Up?
It's pretty simple, really - if you're riding with friends and you don't feel safe, you need to speak up. Why? Well, more than 5,000 teens (ages 16-20) are killed in passenger vehicle crashes (NHTSA) each year, with an estimated 282,000 more being treated in the ER for injuries obtained during a motor vehicle crash.
Need more reasons to speak up? Look around you. Family, sports, school, your future – don’t you think it all means more than worrying about what your friends will think? After all, it is your life being put on the line.
Don’t think your driver will listen? Think again. Eight in 10 teens say that if a friend told them their driving behavior made them feel uncomfortable, they would listen (Ad Council). In fact, nearly 70% of teens say they have a lot or some influence to stop their friends from driving recklessly when they are a passenger (Ad Council).
When to Speak Up
No doubt, you already know the difference between safe driving and unsafe driving. You can feel and see the difference. And you aren’t the only one noticing. Four in 10 teens say that in the past six months they have been in a situation where they felt concerned that a friend’s driving behavior put them at risk as a passenger (Ad Council).
As a passenger, you need to speak up at these moments. When you recognize unsafe driving, take control of the situation by keeping the driver in check and protecting yourself. Tips to avoid unsafe situations include:
- Always Wear Your Seat belt. Seat belts save lives - an estimated 12,174 lives in 2012 (AAA) to be exact.
- Don’t Speed or Race. If your friend cuts the wheel too hard at high speeds, the car could flip. SUVs in particular handle much more sensitively at high speeds.
- Don’t Tailgate. What do you have to prove here? Following someone too closely is a recipe for disaster.
- Pay Attention. Seems obvious doesn’t it? A driver’s first priority should always be driving - not sending a text or switching the radio station.
How to Speak Up
We understand you don’t want to make it a big deal when your friends are driving recklessly. But you – your life – is a big deal. So how can you talk to your driver without lecturing or coming across as a downer? Speak up in your own way. Here are some suggestions:
- Tell them straight – “Hey park over there so we can both eat without dying.”
- Do something – “I’ll text that for you, what do you want to say?”
- Make it a big deal – “I’m not going to ride with you again if you don’t start paying attention!”
- Make a suggestion – “I noticed you’re looking at your phone a lot. Do you mind not doing that?”
- Take a stance – Stick to your word. Don’t ride with a friend who won’t change their habits.
For more information, visit onesecondIowa.org.
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