With Halloween set for Sunday this year, there is an expected increase of trick-or-treating children as well as adult partygoers throughout the entire weekend. Although Halloween is a popular holiday for both children and adults, the fun can often overshadow the dangers that exist.
In 2008, half of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. on Halloween night involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motor vehicle fatalities increase an average of 40 percent when Halloween is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Accordingly, partygoers should plan in advance by designating a sober driver before enjoying the festivities.
AAA offers the following safety tips so the upcoming holiday can be enjoyed safely by everyone:
Motorists, partygoers, hosts
• Plan your travel route carefully. Try to avoid cutting through residential areas that will likely have a large number of trick-or-treaters. If you must drive through a residential area, reduce your speed to at least 5 mph slower than the posted speed limit. Refrain from using a cell phone or engaging in other distractions when driving. If providing directions to a party, make sure to limit unnecessary routes through residential areas.
• Do not let impaired guests drive. If hosting a Halloween party, remind guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver, offer alcohol-free beverages and do not allow impaired guests to drive. Prepare a list of local taxi companies in advance to have ready should guests need to call one.
• Make plans to get home safely. If intending to consume alcohol, make plans to get home safely by selecting a designated driver or ensuring cab service is available from the party location.
• Select highly visible costumes. Look for light, bright and reflective costumes that make trick-or-treaters easy to see. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat buckets and bags to increase visibility. Avoid masks, as they can limit vision.
• Ensure costumes fit well. Have trick-or-treaters try on, walk and play in costumes and shoes in advance to check fit. Make sure nothing comes loose or might cause the child to trip. Check that costume accessories do not obstruct the child's view.
• Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules such as stay on the sidewalk, cross the street at crosswalks; avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in or out.
• Plan trick-or-treating route and supervision in advance. Avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic and look for well-lit streets with sidewalks. Make arrangements for an adult or a responsible teen to accompany younger trick-or-treaters.
• Get a flashlight with fresh batteries. A flashlight can help trick-or-treaters see and be seen, but it should never be directed at someone's eyes, including those of passing motorists.
By keeping these precautions in mind, you and your loved ones will likely have a treat-filled night.
Linda Gorman is the communications public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716.