Got Your Permit? What You Should Know About ‘Passenger Negligence’

Many of the licensed drivers in the United States are unaware of the term passenger negligence, which is particularly and unfortunately more true for teenagers than it is for any other age group. One does not really need to have a driving license or be in the driving seat to cause an accident through actions that can be legally considered as passenger negligence, so it can be anyone, including a 13-year-old teenager at fault.

What is Passenger Negligence?

Passenger negligence is quite a variable term, but in its essence, it can be defined as actions taken by one or more passengers within a running vehicle that contribute partly or completely towards an ensuing accident. In most cases, it involves hampering the driver’s ability to drive properly in some way, be it intentional or not.

What Exactly are the Passenger Actions that Qualify?

It’s difficult to list every possible action that can potentially be considered as neglectful and dangerous behavior from a passenger because the possibilities are vast. Nonetheless, a few of the common examples should be enough to show how not to behave as a passenger, and when to stop the car when one has a co-passenger who is exhibiting dangerous behavior.

  • Blocking the view of the driver in a running car; anything from a cellphone screen to covering their eyes mid-drive as a prank
  • Affecting the driver’s control over the vehicle by grabbing the wheel, pressing the gas/brakes, etc.
  • Constant or sudden yelling or making a loud noise while in a moving vehicle (YouTubers take note)
  • The distraction of the driver via any willful action
  • Talking unnecessarily with the driver in a running car; keep the chitchat to a minimum
  • Supplying alcohol or any other psychoactive substances to the driver in a moving vehicle or encouraging them to partake
  • Encouraging a drunk or otherwise affected driver to take the wheel

What Can You Do If you are a Victim of Passenger Negligence?

If you become aware that one or more of the passengers in a car are at fault for an accident you are involved in, immediately call a lawyer near you. Make sure that they have a good reputation and you will find out if you have a legally valid case on your hands after the first meeting.

People from all age groups can and have been found to be negligent passengers, so it’s not a crime that’s exclusive to teenagers. However, teenagers and young adults are found to be involved in a majority of such incidents, which is to be expected given that they are still kids. It is the duty of parents to teach their kids how to behave as a passenger because good passenger etiquette can at times be the difference between life and death.

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