Time change, Halloween make traffic triple threat, dangers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AAA/WTVQ) — As Halloween 2020 approaches, AAA is reminding of the risk for a dangerous traffic safety trifecta — increased pedestrian activity, drunk driving, and drowsy driving — all of which converge this Halloween weekend.

The ghostly holiday falls on a Saturday this year, followed a few short hours later by “falling back” at the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) at 2 a.m. Sunday, November 1.

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Halloween festivities amid the COVID-19 pandemic will likely look different for many communities. However, those still planning to celebrate should not lose sight of safety first.

Last year, Daylight Saving Time ended Nov. 3. According to the Kentucky State Police, in Kentucky during the period between Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, 2019:

  • There were 4,114 vehicle crashes with 13 fatalities.
  • A distracted driver was a contributing factor in 126 of those crashes, including 2 fatalities.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 78 of those crashes, including 1 fatality.
  • Fatigue was a contributing factor in 23 of the crashes during this time period, while falling asleep was a contributing factor in 30 of them.

In total, there were 74 pedestrians killed and 804 injured in all traffic collisions in 2019.

Child Pedestrian Safety at Greater Risk This Weekend

A scare in good fun is expected on Halloween, but not when it comes to child pedestrian safety, AAA warns.

  • According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days of the year for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

Creative costumes, trick-or-treating and bags full of goodies become top Halloween priorities, with safety often becoming an afterthought. Excited trick-or-treaters can forget about safety, so drivers, party-goers and parents must be even more alert, as the risk of kids being injured by moving vehicles increases.

“With an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treaters and their costumes safer and more visible to motorists,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Blue Grass.  “In addition, motorists must eliminate distractions, slow down and watch for children, as well as have a completely sober designated driver, if drinking is part of a Halloween celebration.”

Halloween is also a statistically dangerous night for drunk driving. The combination of drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween is a deadly combination. AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) found that nationwide in 2017, one-fourth of pedestrian deaths ranging in age from 5 to 14 occurred in the four days leading up to Halloween. In addition, 89 people were fatally injured in a car crash on Halloween night, with 13 percent involving alcohol.

AAA Halloween Safety Tips

Motorists

  • Do not use your phone while behind the wheel, so you can focus on the road and trick-or-treaters.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street. Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right in yards and on front porches.
  • Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and may cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys, taking extra care when you are backing or turning.
  • If your vehicle does not have running lights, turn your headlights on to make yourself more visible―even in the daylight.

Parents

  • Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and light in color to improve visibility.
  • Be bright at night. Have trick-or-treaters use glow sticks or wear reflective tape on costumes and on treat buckets.
  • Ensure disguises don’t obstruct vision. Use non-toxic face paint in place of full-face masks.
  • Create face masks that coordinate with costumes rather than regular costume masks.  This won’t obstruct vision and follows health and safety guidelines for COVID-19.
  • Watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
  • Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
  • Ask an adult or older child to supervise children under age 12.
  • Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
  • Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never enter a stranger’s home or garage.
  • Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.

Trick-or-Treaters

  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible.
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Watch for cars turning or backing up.
  • Cross streets only at the corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
  • Stay in your household’s group.
  • Older children, tell your parents where you are going.
  • Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries. Never shine flashlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers.

 AAA reminds those celebrating Halloween with alcohol that walking impaired can be as dangerous as drunk driving. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.