SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Deadly car accidents caused by impaired and distracted driving have been on the rise across the U.S. and right here in Massachusetts.

“The trend is getting worse… in 2021 we saw 131 fatalities due to impaired driving so that’s 40 more than pre-pandemic levels,” said Mark Schieldrop of AAA Northeast.

This recent trend is causing safe-driving advocates to sound the alarm in observance of “National Passenger Safety Week.”

“A passenger needs to be an advocate for themselves, we’ve seen a lot of unfortunate fatalities in the past few years of passengers in vehicles,” Schieldrop continued.

According to the National Passenger Safety Campaign, stats show that in 2020 about 16% of all traffic fatalities were passengers in vehicles. AAA says while it may be awkward to confront a driver for being too impaired to get behind the wheel or even texting while driving, it could save your life.

Shieldrop recommends, “Set some expectations. So if someone is going to be the designated driver, make sure everyone is aware of that and make sure that person commits to following through on that.”

“It’s difficult sometimes,” Shieldrop noted. “You want to go out and have fun with your friends, nobody wants to be the ‘Debbie Downer.’ But you know what? There’s nothing more ‘Debbie Downer,’ than going to your friends funeral.”

Schieldrop adds that parents can lead by example for their soon-to-be driving teenagers and show safe driving behavior by avoiding distracted driving and not using their phone while out on the road.