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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Virginia Motorists Urged to Prepare for Halloween Dangers
Beware of Trick-or-Treaters, Impaired Drivers

RICHMOND - Virginia motorists are cautioned to pay extra attention to trick-or-treaters, especially in and around residential areas this Halloween. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) encourages drivers to:

  • Drive below the posted speed limit, especially in residential areas
  • Watch for children darting from between parked cars
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully
  • Scan far ahead in traffic to watch for children and try to anticipate their actions
  • Be aware that costumes and masks may hinder a child's peripheral vision, and they may not be able to see a vehicle

Parents are urged to review all trick-or-treat safety precautions with children, especially pedestrian and traffic safety rules. Remind children of the dangers of crossing streets and driveways. Walking carefully is always safer than running. Always walk facing traffic.

While Halloween has long been known as a holiday for children, many adults now participate in the festivities. The combination of partygoers and trick-or-treaters in neighborhoods can be dangerous. Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"Please be extra cautious as you drive on Halloween night," said John Saunders, Director of DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO). "In neighborhoods, slow down, watch for children and never driver alcohol- or drug-impaired."

Two people died and 65 were injured in 155 traffic crashes on Halloween night last year in Virginia. Twelve of the crashes, 10 of the injuries and one of the deaths were alcohol-related. According to NHTSA, 44 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved a driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 or higher, which is illegal in every state including Virginia.

When making plans for Halloween parties, decide ahead of time who the HERO (http://www.herocampaign.org/) will be. The HERO is the designated driver who will stay sober to make sure everyone makes it home safely. Retailers across the Commonwealth are starting to join Virginia's designated driver program by pledging to provide free non-alcoholic beverages to HEROs.

"Virginia has some of the nation's toughest laws when it comes to drunk driving," Saunders said. "Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, attorney fees, time away from work and dozens of other expenses. Real-life Halloween nightmares are simple to avoid if you make the smart decision not to drink and drive."

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