GLEN BURNIE, MD (January 24, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office is asking passengers to speak up if they see family or friends engaging in dangerous driving behaviors. Preliminary data shows that 80 motor vehicle passengers were killed in crashes in Maryland last year. During National Passenger Safety Week, which began January 23 and continues through January 30, Marylanders are encouraged to sign the Courage to Intervene promise, created by the We Save Lives organization.

On average over the past five years in Maryland, 60,000 passengers have been involved in crashes. Of the passengers killed in those crashes, 42% were not wearing a seat belt. Each year, more than 13,000 passengers are injured in Maryland. Additionally, of the nearly 6,600 impaired driving crashes that occur in Maryland each year, an average of 2,713 passengers are injured and 30 are killed.

“While it is the responsibility of the driver to follow the rules of the road, passengers also have an important job,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Passengers can eliminate distractions for the driver by providing navigational directions, refraining from pointing to things off the road, and attending to other passengers for the driver. However, if passengers feel unsafe, they should vocalize their concerns with the driver.”

If a passenger sees any of the following situations, it’s imperative to “Be the Back Seat Driver” – speak up and ask the driver to adjust their behavior. If you ever feel unsafe, do not hesitate to call 911 for assistance.

  • Excessive Speeding: According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or greater is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality than a crash on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph, and nearly five times as likely as a crash on a road with a speed limit of 40 mph or lower.
  • Impaired Driving: Impairment from drugs or alcohol can slow the reaction time of the driver, impair judgment of time and distance and decrease coordination. Drivers should avoid all alcohol and drug use prior to getting behind the wheel. Taking advantage of rideshare options is a safe alternative.
  • Failure to Wear a Seat Belt: It takes three seconds to buckle up. Remember that seat belts are your first line of defense in the event of the crash. Even with technological advances and airbags, failure to wear a seat belt is a contributing factor in about one of every three motor vehicle fatalities on Maryland roadways.
  • Improper Passing: While it may seem like it will get you to your destination faster, excessive weaving between vehicles and lanes is dangerous for all motorists. Drivers are reminded to pass on the left, use your signals and drive at a reasonable speed based on the current weather conditions.  

Learn more about the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office by visiting or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @ZeroDeathsMD.

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