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Don't Let Halloween Turn into a Horror Story on our Highways
10/27/2009
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Pager: (503) 323-3195
 
Shelley M. Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Office: (503) 986-3436

Big home football games, excitable trick-or-treaters, and costumed party-goers – these are just a few reasons why this Saturday - Halloween – might be a little more dangerous for people out driving, walking or riding along Oregon's roads. Irresponsible celebrating and other distractions can quickly make the evening a frightening one, so the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oregon State Police (OSP) and partner law enforcement agencies urge parents, children and motorists to be alert and drive sober.
Halloween Traffic Safety 
"With Halloween falling on a Saturday, we want to make sure one foolish decision doesn't turn that night into a real-life horror story," said Captain Joel Lujan, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division. "Don't take the party to the roadways, putting trick-or-treaters and responsible motorists at risk."
 
Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to impaired drivers. ODOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data reveals a sobering reminder and startling fact that 90 percent of the fatalities (10) on Halloween night (6:00 p.m., October 31st to 5:59 a.m., November 1st) between 1998 and 2008 in Oregon occurred in alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night last year involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, which is illegal in every state.
 
If the challenge of young children running through neighborhoods isn't enough, the Interstate 5 corridor and several roads around Eugene and Corvallis will see a significant traffic increase associated with UO and OSU home football games. Planning, patience and attentiveness are key to making any trip a safe one this weekend.
 
"We've got a perfect opportunity, with football fans and trick-or-treaters celebrating together to remind motorists: please drive sober and pay attention to the task at hand," said ODOT Director Matthew Garrett. "We want everyone to be safe and enjoy the weekend."
 
Law enforcement agencies around the state want to help make Halloween safe for all. OSP, working with county and city police agencies, is putting extra patrols out, especially along the Interstate 5 corridor.
 
"Our goal is to keep Halloween night from becoming a true nightmare for someone," said Lujan.
The cooperative law enforcement effort looking out for ‘scary' drivers is part of the aggressive "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." national campaign, October 25 – 31. OSP troopers reported last year over the Halloween night the arrest of 15 DUII drivers. In support of the enforcement effort, ODOT will post a reminder on many variable messages signs for several days leading up to Halloween night to "Drive Sober. Save lives this Halloween".
 
ODOT, OSP and local law enforcement agencies offer these simple reminders for a safer Halloween:

 
For all drivers:
* Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals.
* Slow down on streets where there are no sidewalks and children are walking on or near the shoulder of the road.
* Watch for children walking in or near the street or on medians or curbs.
* Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and cautiously. Have child passengers enter and exit cars on the curb side, away from traffic.
 
For adult traffic safety:
* Be responsible — never drive impaired.
* If you plan to drink, choose your sober driver before going out.
* If you plan on going to one of the football games, leave early, be patient and don't get distracted at any time while driving.
* Once impaired, use mass transit, call a cab or ask a sober friend to get you home.
* If all else fails, just stay where you are and sleep it off.
* Always buckle up — it's still your best defense against an impaired driver.
* If hosting a Halloween party, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
 
For parents and children:
* Dress children in bright costumes. Use reflective tape or stickers on dark costumes.
* Apply face paint or cosmetics appropriate for children directly to the face. It is safer than a loose-fitting mask that can obstruct a child's vision.
* If a mask is worn, cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
* Have children carry flashlights or glow sticks to improve their visibility.
* Secure hats so they will not slip over children's eyes.
* Remind children to cross streets only at intersections.
* Teach them to stop and look for cars, looking to the left, right and left again before crossing, and then to keep looking both ways for cars while they cross.
* Teach them never to dart into a street or cross a street from between parked cars.
 
Elementary age pedestrians are at highest risk because they:
* Have a field of vision one-third narrower than an adult's.
* Are unable to determine the direction of sounds.
* Cannot accurately judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles.
* Overestimate their abilities.
* Are easily hidden by parked cars, bushes, leaf piles, trash bins, etc.
 
(For local Halloween plans, contact your local OSP office and law enforcement agencies)
 
Everyone plays an important role in keeping our roads and children safe. Immediately report aggressive, dangerous and intoxicated drivers to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.