Halloween Horrors: Distracted and drunk drivers pose dangers for Trick-or-Treaters

By: Ragina Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic

TOWSON, MD (Tuesday, October 29, 2019) –– A good scare is in good fun on Halloween, but AAA warns, not when it comes to child pedestrian safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days of the year for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

Creative costumes, trick-or-treating and bags full of goodies become top Halloween priorities, but safety often becomes an afterthought. Excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, so drivers, party-goers and parents must be even more alert, as the risk of kids being injured by moving vehicles increases greatly.

“Motorists must eliminate distractions, slow down and watch for children, as well as have a completely sober designated driver if drinking is part of a Halloween celebration,” said Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “In addition, with an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treaters and their costumes safer and more visible to motorists.

Halloween is also a statistically dangerous night for drunk driving. The combination of drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween is a deadly combination. AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) found that:

  • From 2013 – 2017, 158 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night (NHTSA)
  • During that period, 42% of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night were in crashes involving a drunk driver. In comparison, according to NHTSA, there were 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2017, and 29% (10,874) of those fatalities occurred in a crash in which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08.
  • From 2013 – 2017, 22% of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver. (NHTSA)
  • “During the 2017 Halloween night (6 p.m. October 31 to 5:59 a.m. November 1), there were 11 vehicle occupants and three pedestrians killed in drunk-driving crashes,” according to NHTSA.

AAA Halloween Safety Tips

Motorists

  • Do not use your phone while behind the wheel, so you can focus on the road and trick-or-treaters.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and may cross the street mid-block or between parked cars. Do not solely rely upon pedestrian detection systems.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys, taking extra care if you are backing up or turning.
  • Turn your headlights on to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight.
  • Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and on front porches.

Parents

  • Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and light in color to improve visibility.
  • Be bright at night – have trick-or-treaters use glow sticks or wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and on treat buckets.
  • Ensure that disguises don’t obstruct vision, and avoid facemasks. Instead, use nontoxic face paint. Watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
  • Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
  • Ask an adult or older child to supervise children under age 12.
  • Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
  • Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger’s home or garage.
  • Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.

Trick-or-Treaters

  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the streets, if possible.
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Watch for cars turning or backing up.
  • Cross streets only at the corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
  • Trick-or-treat in a group if someone older cannot go with you.
  • Tell your parents where you are going.
  • Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries. Never shine flashlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers.

Party Goers

  • Arrange a safe ride home and/or designate a driver before partaking in any festivities.
  • Always designate a sober driver.
  • If you are drunk, take a taxi or rideshare service, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation.
  • Before leaving for a party, load rideshare apps or put numbers of local cab companies or your designated driver(s) into your phone.
  • Walking impaired can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.

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