Teen riders: How to be a good passenger

Teen drivers get lots of advice about how to drive safely and avoid distractions. But you probably don’t hear much about how to be a good passenger.

Most states have restrictions on the number of passengers new teen drivers can have with them in the car. Why? Because passengers can be a serious distraction.

Help keep yourself and the driver safe by being an engaged passenger: 

  • Hang up. Other people’s phone conversations are distracting. If you’re on the phone, the driver can’t plug her ears or walk away. Be considerate and keep your phone calls short and quiet.
  • Be the button pusher. Be the designated person in charge of the phone or navigation system. Help the driver fight distraction by answering their phone for them (if they insist) or managing the playlist.
  • Chillax. Sometimes traffic gets dicey. Keep the screams, the gasps, and the “OMGs!” to yourself. Yelling will not help the driver get through an emergency situation. 
  • Buckle up. In most states, seat belts are required by law. Don’t be the reason your friend gets pulled over by the police. Wear your seat belt every time. Better yet, be the positive peer pressure that makes everyone else (including the driver) wear theirs too.
  • Wait for the right time. Save the tough conversations and potential arguments until you’ve reached your destination.
  • Be aware. There’s a big difference between backseat driving (being critical) and keeping a second set of eyes on the road. Be a good co-pilot by staying aware of what’s going on outside the vehicle.

Truth is, your behavior is just as important as the driver’s behavior when you’re on the road. It’s your job to help them focus.

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