Halloween is just around the corner and with it comes adult parties, adult beverages and unfortunately, impaired drivers and pedestrians.
Mixing impaired drivers with the increased pedestrian traffic accompanying trick or treat leads to tragic but predictable results.
These deaths and injuries can be avoided by motorists simply taking responsibility and ensuring they do not drive while impaired.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 6,283 pedestrian fatalities in 2018 – a number that has steadily risen since 2015.
Sadly, Pennsylvania has contributed to the upward trend. Pedestrian crashes during Halloween increased 35 percent in the Commonwealth from 2018 to 2019.
Many of these crashes involved impaired drivers or impaired pedestrians – a potentially lethal combination. Pedestrians are reminded that they bear responsibility for their safety as well.
Wearing bright/light-colored clothing, utilizing reflective devices, flashlights and other lighting, crossing at intersections and within designated cross walks and staying alert – all things pedestrians should do on a regular basis, not just during Halloween.
C. Stephen Erni, executive director of the Pennsylvania DUI Association, expressed his concern: “Through the years, Halloween has progressively become an adult holiday and as such, has led to an increase in adult parties and social functions.
“Add to that the recent pandemic and the slow lifting of restrictions and I expect we’ll see an unprecedented number of adult Halloween gatherings.
“People are out of practice and need to be reminded about planning ahead and arranging for alternative transportation in order to avoid driving impaired.
“I also want to remind motorists about the potential impairment caused by prescription medications as well as illicit drugs – remember, impaired is impaired.
“This Halloween has all the components for the ‘perfect storm’ of impaired driving tragedies – we want to avoid this by getting the word out early. If you’re impaired, don’t get behind the wheel.”
Law enforcement is up for the challenge this Halloween will present. They will be out in force looking for impaired motorists.
Many officers have received advanced training in order to spot drug impairment and the number of Drug Recognition Experts in the state continues to grow.
If you drive impaired, chances are greater now than ever that you will be caught and prosecuted. The average first offense DUI conviction in Pennsylvania costs between $6,000 and $10,000 and entails a suspension of the motorist’s operating privilege for up to 12 months.
Through Oct. 31, law enforcement throughout the commonwealth will be focusing their efforts, looking for impaired drivers and pedestrians as part of NHTSA’s Halloween Traffic Safety Campaign.
Impaired pedestrians can also be arrested for public drunkenness as well as other violations relating to pedestrians in the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
The message is simple – plan ahead so you are not driving or walking on Pennsylvania’s highways, roadways or trafficways while impaired. The life you save may be your own.