Halloween is a fun night for both children and adults, but the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) remind parents, children and especially motorists to do their part to make sure that everyone gets home safely. The celebration can quickly turn into a real night of horror if someone is hurt by a carless or impaired driver.
“With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, we want to make sure revelers aren’t taking the party to the roadways, putting trick-or-treaters and responsible motorists at risk,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. “Law enforcement officers throughout Tennessee will be out in full force arresting and removing drunk drivers from our roadways.”
Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher. Last year in Tennessee, eight people were killed in seven crashes on Halloween between 12:00 a.m., October 31, 2008, through 6:00 a.m., November 1, 2008. Four of those crashes involved alcohol. That compares to three people killed in crashes on Halloween during the same time period in 2007. One crash in 2007 involved alcohol.
“One foolish decision can turn a fun Halloween into a real nightmare,” stated THP Colonel Mike Walker. “We want everyone to have a good time, but be smart about it. Designate a driver. This is your warning, because if you drink and drive, you will go to jail.”
Parents and children have a responsibility to be safe this Halloween too. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the number of deaths among young pedestrians (ages 5-14) is four times higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reports that fatal collisions between motor vehicles and young pedestrians (under the age of 15) happen most frequently between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., prime trick-or-treating time. Parents should remind teens just how terrifying and dangerous and illegal it is to drink and drive. In 2008, 31% of young drivers, 15 to 20 years old, who were killed in crashes, had a BAC of .08 or higher. Drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking. In 2008, 63 percent of young drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking were unrestrained.
There are simple precautions partygoers can take such as designating a sober driver in advance or taking a taxi. Below are tips parents, children and motorists should keep in mind before heading out the door this Halloween.
HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS
Tips for Motorists
Slow down. Watch for children walking on roads, medians and curbs.
Be extra alert when pulling in and out of driveways.
Be especially alert for children darting out from between parked vehicles and from behind bushes and shrubs. They’re excited – and they are not paying attention.
Do not pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be dropping off children.
If you are driving to a Halloween Party, put your mask on after you park the car.
Never drink and drive – tonight or any night. If you are partying, designate a driver.
Tips for Parents
Adults should accompany children at all times and supervise their "trick or treat" activities.
Teach children to "stop, look left-right-left, and listen" before they cross the street.
Instruct children to stay on sidewalks and to cross only at corners or crosswalks.
Use a flashlight and wear retro-reflective strips or patches on your clothing or costume to be more visible to motorists.
Be certain that the mask does not obstruct vision or hearing.
Ensure that costumes do not impede walking or driving ability.
Tips for Pedestrians
(children and adults)
Before crossing a street, stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are coming. Continue to check for traffic while on the street.
Walk – never run – from house to house or across the road.
Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
When crossing at an intersection with a traffic light, be sure to watch for turning cars. Obey all pedestrian signals.
Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.