RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The last week of January is a national effort to remind passengers on the roads that they have the power to prevent distracted driving.

National Passenger Safety Week is now underway and runs through Saturday.

Riding in the car with someone who may have been distracted or even impaired is an issue that has become all too common. Candace Lightner is the founder of We Save Lives and said there is something each of us can do.

“You need to say ‘I don’t feel safe—I feel really uncomfortable and I know you don’t want me to feel that way,’” Lightner said. 

In a press release, her team said 42,915 people died in auto accidents in 2022. Passenger deaths account for 62 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide in 2021—that’s according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  

Lightner lost her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, in May of 1980 due to a drunk driver. The teen was hit while walking.

“When he hit my daughter, he threw her 125 feet. He left her on the road to die. And I found out, once he was arrested, that probably nothing would have happened to him because that’s the way the system worked forty-some-odd years ago,” she said. 

Lightner also started the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She created it in hopes of changing the culture of drunk driving while making efforts to hold drivers accountable.  

Now she and more than 60 other traffic safety advocates travel the country to encourage passengers to speak up for their lives and the lives of others. 

“You have the power to save lives. You have the power—in five seconds you can save a life,” she said. 

To view free programs and for more information, visit www.nrsf.org.