Safety issues for trick-or-treaters and parents also highlighted for the mid-week holiday
(ATLANTA) Halloween is a time for making memories, not causing nightmares so the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is warning this year’s partiers that buzzed driving is still drunk driving no matter how good your costume is.
Nationwide in 2015, 55 people were killed in drunk driving-related crashes on the ghoulish holiday. Eight of those were pedestrian deaths. This means that on Halloween and any other night, if you’re impaired behind the wheel, you’re a danger to yourself, other motorists and those who’ve chosen to walk to their destination. So before the eve of all hallows on October 31, be sure to make a plan to get home safely if your evening will involve alcohol.
“It is imperative that Halloween partygoers make a plan ahead of time for a sober ride home,” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said. “These days, there are far too many options for a sober ride with taxis, public transportation, smartphone apps and friends as designated drivers. And with costumed little ones running from house to house for sugary treats, there are far too many consequences if you don’t get a sober ride.”
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows 45 percent of all people killed in traffic crashes on Halloween night from 2011 to 2015 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Children out trickor- treating and the parents accompanying them are also at risk, with 36 percent of fatal Halloween night pedestrian crashes in the same time period involving drunk drivers. Younger drivers, however, are most at risk. The 21-to-34 age group accounted for 64 percent of Halloween night fatalities in nationwide drunk- driving- related crashes for 2015.
It is also just as important for parents and their trick-or-treaters to safely prepare for an evening of hitting the streets for a sugary bounty. If walking, everyone should stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the street if possible. If no sidewalks are available, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. And as always, all pedestrians should look both ways before crossing the street and do so only at crosswalks and street corners. Never cross between parked vehicles or midblock.
“Costumes and treat buckets should also include reflective elements to make trick-or-treaters more visible to motorists,” Blackwood said. “It is also a good idea to carry a flashlight with fresh batteries so this year’s crop of superheroes, witches, pirates and princesses can safely find their way.”
The good news is there are lots of easy ways for both motorists and trickor- treaters alike to have a safely memorable Halloween: For Trick-or-Treaters and Parents Parents should accompany trick-or-treaters under the age of 12.
Review trick-or-treating safety precautions and plan a route ahead of time.
Look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks as much as possible.
Buckle up if driving trickor- treaters between houses and use appropriate car seats.
For Motorists Plan a safe way home before you go out. For example, arrange for a sober driver, program taxi numbers into your phone or download the Drive Sober, Georgia app to have a list of ride programs at your fingertips.
Avoid neighborhood shortcuts and residential streets where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present.
Watch for children in the street. Their size means they can be hidden by other cars and they may dart into the street or otherwise avoid crosswalks to get quickly to the next house.
**For video clips of GOHS Director Harris Blackwood offering Halloween safety tips and advice, visit https://www. dropbox.com/s/fxr42i21vq aeto2/Halloween%202017 %20safety.mpg?dl=0 . ** Cut 1: “We want people to have a good time. We are not in the business of telling people not to have a good time. We just want them to do it safely. If your party involves alcohol, you need to plan how you are going to get home. Whether it is a ride service, designating a driver or staying where you are until you sober up the next day.“ Cut 2: “If you have had a couple or three drinks, you are probably not going to be thinking clearly. You probably need to think about that before you start drinking. I tell people sometimes that by the time your lips touch the second drink you need to have a plan on how you are going to get home. We want people to do that in advance. Know where you are going to be. Know how you are going to get home either that night or the next day.”
Cut 3: “If you are going from point to point to car, don’t put your children in there standing up or anything like that. It is so dangerous. They need to be their seat, their child passenger safety seat if they are under the age of 8. That is their protection. Without doing that, you are putting them at risk. We want them to go out and have fun. It is a fun night. It is fun to go out and be with friends and be in your costume and having lots of fun. We just want you to come back from that experience safely.”
Cut 4: “If you are walking with your children, you should have a flashlight and your children should have a flashlight. Make sure there is a strip of reflective tape on their clothes where they can be seen if it doesn’t already come with reflective items on there. Make sure somebody can see you. It will be dark before seven o’clock and there will be children out there. It gets dark mighty quickly and we want people to be able to see you when you are walking, going house to house.”
For more information on the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, go to www.gahighwaysafety.org or visit our social media pages at www.facebook . com/ GAHighwaySafety and @gohsgeorgia on Twitter.