Virginia Highway Safety Office News ReleasesFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 18, 2010
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
Caution Advised While Driving on Halloween
Increase in Pedestrians, Drunk Drivers Predicted
RICHMOND - Since more pedestrians are on the roadways on Halloween, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges motorists to be alert. With the holiday falling on a Sunday this year, trick-or-treaters of all ages may be hitting the streets earlier than usual, and for a longer period of time. DMV recommends motorists:
- Stay below the posted speed limit, especially in residential areas
- Avoid passing other vehicles; they may be slowing down for trick-or-treaters
- Look out for children at intersections and darting out between vehicles
- Avoid all distractions including cell phones, and concentrate on the task of driving
"Children and their parents have one thing on their minds on Halloween -- trick or treating," said DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "Motorists need to be aware of the risks of driving near dusk on Halloween when visibility is lowest and pedestrian traffic is highest. If possible, try to avoid venturing out in your car during this time."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween has one of the highest rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the United States. The number of deaths among young pedestrians (ages 5-14) is four times higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were three pedestrian injuries on Halloween last year in Virginia.
"On Halloween, motorists are urged to watch out for trick-or-treaters, but they also need to be aware of the possibility of impaired motorists," Holcomb said. In 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher. In Virginia, there were 323 crashes, 185 injuries and one traffic fatality on Halloween in 2009; 43 of the crashes and 39 of the injuries were alcohol-related.
"We urge Halloween party-goers to designate a sober driver and keep the party off the road," Holcomb said. "Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving are significant."