Halloween horrors: Distracted, impaired drivers pose dangers for trick-or-treaters
Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018
LEXINGTON — A good scare may be all in good fun on Halloween, but not when it comes to child pedestrian safety. Over-the-top costumes, trick-or-treating and bags full of goodies become top Halloween priorities, while safety often becomes an afterthought, warns AAA.
Excited trick-or-treaters are likely to 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 over Halloween.
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. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween as any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
“With an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treating safer and costumes more visible to motorists,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, manager, public and government affairs, AAA Blue Grass. “Now, more than ever, motorists must eliminate distractions, slow down and watch for children, as well as designate a completely sober person as driver if Halloween celebrating involves alcohol use.”
Halloween is a statistically dangerous night for impaired driving.
Parties, fall festivals and trick-or-treating bring increased dangers for children. The combination of drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween has been a deadly combination.
Tragically, Halloween drunk-driving fatalities are on the rise. From 2012-16 there were 168 drunk driving fatalities nationwide on Halloween night. During that period, 44 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night were in crashes involving an impaired driver, according to NHTSA statistics.
Children out trick-or-treating and those accompanying them are also at risk, as 14 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved impaired drivers. Younger adults are most at risk: The 21- to 34-year-old age group accounted for the most fatalities (46 percent) in impaired-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2016.
AAA HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS
• 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.
• 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 left and right for children in yards and on front porches.
• 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. Also, 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.
• Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in 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.
• Before you take your first drink, make a plan on how you will get home. Options are to take a taxi or ride share service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. Load ride share apps or put numbers of local cab companies or your designated driver(s) into your phone.
• Walking impaired can be as dangerous as impaired driving. If heading home on foot, designate a sober friend to walk you home.
• If you see an impaired 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.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than 600,000 members in Kentucky. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.