As Halloween approaches, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind everyone that safe and responsible celebrations should be a top priority during this beloved holiday. Halloween is not only a time for costumes and candy but also for parties and gatherings, which can lead to an increase in drunk drivers on the roads. To combat this issue, the GHSP is spreading the crucial message that "Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving."
On Halloween and Trick-or-Treat nights, when more pedestrians are out at night in pursuit of candy, drivers are urged to be extra cautious, particularly if their plans involve alcohol. It is essential to plan for a sober ride home to ensure the safety of all road users. It's a sobering fact that during the years 2017-2021, there were 159 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night.
In 2021, there was a decrease in fatalities, with 38 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night, down from 58 people in 2020. However, it is still alarming that adults between the ages of 21 and 34 accounted for 55% of the fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2021.
Nationally, roughly one-third of all traffic crash fatalities involve drunk drivers with Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 g/dL. In 2021, there were 13,384 people killed in drunk-driving crashes. It's worth noting that it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or higher in most of the United States, except for Utah, where the limit is 0.05 g/dL.
Despite these laws, the statistics are grim, as one person was killed every 39 minutes in a drunk-driving crash on the nation's roads in 2021. Moreover, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was 2.8 times higher at night than during the day.
Men are more likely than women to drive under the influence when involved in fatal crashes. In 2021, 22% of males were found to be drunk, compared to 17% of females.
"Even though Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, we anticipate an increase in parties and get-togethers during the week leading up to and throughout the weekend. We want those who celebrate with adult beverages to plan a sober ride home in advance," said Amy Boggs, GHSP Occupant Protection Coordinator. "Even one drink can impair judgment, and the same is true for any illegal drug or certain prescription medications. You should never put yourself or others at risk because you made the wrong choice to drink and drive. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving."
It's not just drunk driving that poses a danger on Halloween; pedestrians should also be cautious, whether they are children trick-or-treating or adults who have consumed alcohol. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as a lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of being struck by a vehicle.
"Of course, we want people to have a fun night out on Halloween. But more importantly, we want people to be safe and make responsible choices," Boggs continued. "There are many options available today to help drivers get home safely if they've been drinking or using drugs. We expect drivers to be responsible and refrain from driving after consuming an impairing substance."
In conclusion, Boggs emphasized, "The bottom line is: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Get a sober ride home and keep all road users safe this Halloween."
Celebrate with a Plan
If you plan to head out for a night of Halloween partying, remember these simple tips for a safe and happy evening:
- Never drink and drive: Even if you've had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
- Use a sober ride program: If available, take advantage of your community's sober ride program or a taxi.
- Report drunk drivers: If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
- Intervene for friends: If you have a friend who is about to drink and drive, take their keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.
- Always remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov or call 304-926-2509.
As Halloween approaches, let's make sure the scariest thing on the road is a child's spooky costume, not the consequences of impaired driving. Stay safe and enjoy the festivities responsibly.