(WSPA) – With a thousand plus car-related deaths in South Carolina in 2022, Highway Patrol is encouraging not only drivers but passengers to become more safety conscious.

“That second it takes to [buckle your seat belt], it could save your life or your passenger’s life in the car,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway.

Not only does passenger safety week encourage passengers to buckle up but also to speak up if the driver they’re with is distracted, speeding, or intoxicated.

“Speak up and hold the driver accountable because that driver has everybody’s lives in their hands while they are driving down the road,” Ridgeway said. “Not only are the people in the vehicles lives in their hands, but they are also sharing the road with other individuals. That affects all of us.” 

The Greenville County Coroner’s Office expects more than 100 traffic fatalities in Greenville County in 2023 but said that number could become lower with education.

“It seems to be making a difference,” said Chief Deputy Coroner Mike Williams. “We have people that we talked to 6-7 years ago in driving school, I have. Then, when I speak at another driving school they will say my brother was in this driving school six years ago and he told me about this, this, and this.”

“That really makes a huge difference in how we feel,” said Williams. “We know we are reaching some people.”

Not just this week but everyday passengers are encouraged to speak up when in a vehicle being driven unsafely.