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With the arrival of Halloween and the end of Daylight Saving Time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding everyone to drive safely, keep an eye out for trick-or-treaters, and never drink and drive if you’ve celebrated with alcohol.

As the clocks turn back on November 2, drivers and pedestrians need to be aware of the safety challenges that occur during the shorter days of fall and winter.

A dangerous combination

Drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween night has historically been a dangerous combination. On Halloween night in 2012, 54 people died, and nearly half of those deaths (26) involved a crash with a drunk driver, as opposed to one-third on an average day.

More than one-quarter (28%) of Halloween crash fatalities were pedestrians, versus 14% on an average day. From 2008-2012, 21% of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.

Generally, evening hours are the deadliest time on the road, so drivers and pedestrians should be on guard with the end of Daylight Saving Time. In 2012, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. Most of these pedestrian deaths occur in urban environments, and the majority of pedestrian fatalities occur when it is dark, with 24 percent occurring from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 32 percent occurring from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.

Halloween safety tips

For motorists

  • Use caution while behind the wheel.
  • Slow down and be alert in residential areas.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
  • Eliminate distractions so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive sober or get pulled over.
  • Always designate a sober driver and plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night if you plan on celebrating Halloween with alcohol.
  • Use your community’s sober ride program or take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.

For pedestrians

  • Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
  • Help keep kids safe.
  • Children out at night and under the age of 12 should have adult supervision.
  • Kids should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  • Choose face paint when possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Decorate costumes with reflective tape and have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights.
  • Always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.

Time-change safety tips

For motorists

  • Slow down. During the evening hours, you need more time to see a pedestrian in your path.
  • Keep in mind that pedestrians who are wearing headphones, hats or earmuffs may not hear your vehicle as it approaches.
  • Keep your windshield, windows, and mirrors clean. Make sure your defrosters and windshield wipers are working properly and that washer fluid is replaced as needed.

For pedestrians

  • Carry a flashlight or attach reflective materials -- such as fluorescent tape -- to clothing, backpacks, purses and briefcases.
  • Don't depend on the traffic signal to protect you. Motorists may be distracted, especially when adjusting to the nighttime travel environment.
  • Use crosswalks. Avoid jaywalking and crossing between parked vehicles.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If you must walk on the street, face traffic.
  • When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars from the curb.
  • Do not cross the street if a car is coming and use a crosswalk if available.
  • Watch out for cars at every driveway and intersection.
  • Pay attention to what is happening on the road and avoid distractions.

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