NewsOperation Safe Roads


Push for passengers to speak up for their safety while on the road

Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 10:21:01-04

PHOENIX — Less than two weeks ago, a driver, accused of being drunk behind the wheel, got on the freeway and drove the wrong way on a West Valley freeway.

Those actions cost two people their lives, including a person riding in his own car. This comes as there is a push nationwide to get passengers to speak up for their own safety.

"There's definitely a lot more traffic," said Alyssa Kruger. "There's a lot more people on the road in general."

She came here to study psychology at Arizona State University. This Iowa transplant is also getting lessons each day outside the classroom in observing driver behavior. 

"People are in a lot more of a hurry out here," Alyssa said.

She tells ABC15, she has spotted bad drivers on the road and has also seen it inside the very car she is sitting shotgun in.

"Have you ever had to say something or speak up while you've been in the car with someone," Traffic Anchor Megan Thompson asked Alyssa.

"Yes, for sure," she answered immediately. "... I've definitely had to say some things, like 'Hey, can you put your phone down just for like 10 minutes at least so we can get through this area,' you know? Because some people just have it out the entire time."

This kind of behavior is something many have experienced out on the roads. 

"I wanted to focus on three things: drunk, drugged, and distracted driving," said Candace Lightner.

Lightner is the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, known as MADD, and currently leads We Save Lives.

Her latest work is the first-ever National Passenger Safety Week with the goal of it being discussed every January.

She hopes to offer tools to help people feel more comfortable speaking out if they notice bad driving behavior.

"We've always focused on the driver, but in my opinion, we've never really focused on the passenger," Lightner explained.

Her work with the National Road Safety Foundation found more than 60% of passengers accounted for all traffic fatalities nationwide, according to 2019 NHTSA data.

List Quote Template w_ Background Image copy.jpg
NHTSA data

"And I have seen numerous articles in recent years... even since the pandemic, about these horrible crashes," Lightner said. "Some famous people, sports people - whatever. But other people, as well where they're speeding, they're driving drunk... and they had passengers in the car! And I'm like, 'What was that passenger thinking? Whatever possessed them to get in the car?'"

Traffic Anchor Megan Thompson asked Alyssa, "What pushes you to speak up?" She responded, "I think just I want to stay safe on the road. I don't want to get into any accident." 

Click here for tools and resources, including questions to ask a teen before they become a passenger.

To sign the 'Courage to Intervene' pledge, click here.

Have a road issue or a question for Operation Safe Roads? You can call 833-AZ-ROADS or email