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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Drivers, Trick-or-Treaters Urged to Use Caution on Halloween
Increase in Pedestrians, Drunk Drivers Predicted

RICHMOND - Halloween is one of the best times of the year for children, but it can be one of the most dangerous as well. Since more pedestrians are on the roadways on Halloween, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges driver to be extra alert.

DMV recommends motorists enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully, and stay below the posted speed limit, especially in residential areas. They should avoid passing other vehicles since they may be slowing down for trick-or-treaters, and should look out for children darting out between vehicles.

According to Safe Kids USA, on average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween as compared to any other day of the year. Therefore, parents and caregivers are encouraged to trim children's costumes or candy bags with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a vehicle's headlights. Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling. Pedestrians are also encouraged to carry flashlights on Halloween.

While trick-or-treating, children should walk (not run) from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walking in the street. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk beside the road, facing traffic so drivers can see them. "Parents should remind their children not to assume the right of way," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will. Also, drivers may have trouble-seeing trick-or-treaters."

Parents and caregivers are urged to plan their trick-or-treat route ahead of time to avoid busy, high-speed or multi-lane roads. They should decide before leaving home how the group will cross any streets.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 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.

"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. NHTSA reports that 48 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night in 2009 involved a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration.

In Virginia, there were 308 crashes, 159 injuries and three traffic fatalities on Halloween in 2010; 41 of the crashes and 29 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."

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