Proliferation of Adult Celebrations Leads to Dramatic Increase in DWI-Related Crashes
A quick question—what night has the most alcohol-fueled motor vehicle accidents every year? New Years Eve, right? Not anymore…though the revelry that accompanies the annual changing of the calendar still poses substantial risk, there’s a new kid in town, so to speak. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, Halloween, the annual celebration of “All Hallows Eve,” now involves more drunk driving accidents than any other time of the year. In fact, the 12-hour period between 6 pm on October 31 and 6 am on November 1, sees more alcohol-related automobile accidents than any similar time period year-round. Of those accidents, approximately half involved drunk drivers between the ages of 21 and 34.
In addition to alcohol-related crashes involving two or more vehicles, there’s been a spike in the number of pedestrian accidents on Halloween night, often involving children out trick-or-treating. Halloween has long been recognized as the “deadliest” day of the year for child pedestrian accidents. A study of data collected over two decades showed more than 100 child fatalities on Halloween night, with one in four taking place between 6 pm and 7 pm, the peak hours for trick-or-treating. About seven of every ten accidents occurred away from a crosswalk or intersection—officials say that children excited by Halloween often neglect to obey simple rules about crossing at corners. Drivers under the age of 25 accounted for about a third of all the fatal child pedestrian accidents on Halloween.
Public safety officials say there are a number of steps both drivers and others can do to minimize the risk of a tragedy:
- If you plan to drink, have a plan in place to keep you from getting behind the wheel—Arrange a designated driver in advance or schedule for a cab/ride share to pick you up at the end of the night. Take public transportation, catch a ride with someone who’s not drinking or make it a slumber party.
- Stay off the roads during peak trick-or-treating time—It’s 6 pm to 8 pm in most places. If you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t. If your errands can wait, postpone them until trick-or-treating is over. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s often not a risk worth taking. If you have to be on the road, drop your speed down, just for this one night.
Parents can also help minimize the risk of injury to their children:
- Accompany them as they go from door-to-door
- Plan a route that minimizes proximity to busy roads or blind intersections
- Make certain your child’s costume does not obstruct his or her view of surroundings
- If the costume is not highly visible, add some reflective material
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